The spinal cord has a limited capacity to self-repair. After injury, endogenous stem cells are activated and migrate, proliferate, and differentiate into glial cells. The absence of neuronal differentiation has been partly attributed to the interaction between the injured microenvironment and neural stem cells. In order to improve post-injury neuronal differentiation and/or maturation potential, cell-cell and cell-biochemical interactions have been investigated. However, little is known about the role of stem cell-matrix interactions on stem cell-mediated repair. Here, we specifically examined the effects of matrix elasticity on stem cell-mediated repair in the spinal cord, since spinal cord injury results in drastic changes in parenchyma elasticity and viscosity. Spinal cord-derived neural precursor cells (NPCs) were grown on bis-acrylamide substrates with various rigidities. NPC growth, proliferation, and differentiation were examined and optimal in the range of normal spinal cord elasticity. In conclusion, limitations in NPC growth, proliferation, and neuronal differentiation were encountered when substrate elasticity was not within normal spinal cord tissue elasticity ranges. These studies elucidate the effect injury mediated mechanical changes may have on tissue repair by stem cells. Furthermore, this information can be applied to the development of future neuroregenerative biomaterials for spinal cord repair.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Dendrite branching
- Spinal cord injury
- Stem cells