Decellularization techniques and their applications for the repair and regeneration of the nervous system

Methods. 2020 Jan 15:171:41-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2019.07.023. Epub 2019 Aug 6.


A variety of surgical and non-surgical approaches have been used to address the impacts of nervous system injuries, which can lead to either impairment or a complete loss of function for affected patients. The inherent ability of nervous tissues to repair and/or regenerate is dampened due to irreversible changes that occur within the tissue remodeling microenvironment following injury. Specifically, dysregulation of the extracellular matrix (i.e., scarring) has been suggested as one of the major factors that can directly impair normal cell function and could significantly alter the regenerative potential of these tissues. A number of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine-based approaches have been suggested to intervene in the process of remodeling which occurs following injury. Decellularization has become an increasingly popular technique used to obtain acellular scaffolds, and their derivatives (hydrogels, etc.), which retain tissue-specific components, including critical structural and functional proteins. These advantageous characteristics make this approach an intriguing option for creating materials capable of stimulating the sensitive repair mechanisms associated with nervous system injuries. Over the past decade, several diverse decellularization methods have been implemented specifically for nervous system applications in an attempt to carefully remove cellular content while preserving tissue morphology and composition. Each application-based decellularized ECM product requires carefully designed treatments that preserve the unique biochemical signatures associated within each tissue type to stimulate the repair of brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerve tissues. Herein, we review the decellularization techniques that have been applied to create biomaterials with the potential to promote the repair and regeneration of tissues within the central and peripheral nervous system.

Keywords: Acellular scaffolds; Decellularization; Hydrogels; Nervous system; PNI; SCI; TBI.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extracellular Matrix / chemistry
  • Extracellular Matrix / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemistry
  • Hydrogels / pharmacology
  • Nervous System / drug effects
  • Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Regenerative Medicine / trends*
  • Tissue Engineering*
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry


  • Hydrogels