Controlled nerve growth factor release from multi-ply alginate/chitosan-based nerve conduits

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The delivery kinetics of growth factors has been suggested to play an important role in the regeneration of peripheral nerves following axotomy. In this context, we designed a nerve conduit (NC) with adjustable release kinetics of nerve growth factor (NGF). A multi-ply system was designed where NC consisting of a polyelectrolyte alginate/chitosan complex was coated with layers of poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) to control the release of embedded NGF. Prior to assessing the in vitro NGF release from NC, various release test media, with and without stabilizers for NGF, were evaluated to ensure adequate quantification of NGF by ELISA. Citrate (pH 5.0) and acetate (pH 5.5) buffered saline solutions containing 0.05% Tween 20 yielded the most reliable results for ELISA active NGF. The in vitro release experiments revealed that the best results in terms of reproducibility and release control were achieved when the NGF was embedded between two PLGA layers and the ends of the NC tightly sealed by the PLGA coatings. The release kinetics could be efficiently adjusted by accommodating NGF at different radial locations within the NC. A sustained release of bioactive NGF in the low nanogram per day range was obtained for at least 15 days. In conclusion, the developed multi-ply NGF loaded NC is considered a suitable candidate for future implantation studies to gain insight into the relationship between local growth factor availability and nerve regeneration.

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