Uric acid released from poly(ε-caprolactone) fibers as a treatment platform for spinal cord injury

Nisha K. Singh, Salman Khaliq, Mann Patel, N'Dea Wheeler, Sudeepti Vedula, Joseph W. Freeman, Bonnie L. Firestein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is characterized by a primary mechanical phase of injury, resulting in physical tissue damage, and a secondary pathological phase, characterized by biochemical processes contributing to inflammation, neuronal death, and axonal demyelination. Glutamate-induced excitotoxicity (GIE), in which excess glutamate is released into synapses and overstimulates glutamate receptors, is a major event in secondary SCI. GIE leads to mitochondrial damage and dysfunction, release of reactive oxygen species (ROS), DNA damage, and cell death. There is no clinical treatment that targets GIE after SCI, and there is a need for therapeutic targets for secondary damage in patients. Uric acid (UA) acts as an antioxidant and scavenges free radicals, upregulates glutamate transporters on astrocytes, and preserves neuronal viability in in vitro and in vivo SCI models, making it a promising therapeutic candidate. However, development of a drug release platform that delivers UA locally to the injured region in a controlled manner is crucial, as high systemic UA concentrations can be detrimental. Here, we used the electrospinning technique to synthesize UA-containing poly(ɛ-caprolactone) fiber mats that are biodegradable, biocompatible, and have a tunable degradation rate. We optimized delivery of UA as a burst within 20 min from uncoated fibers and sustained release over 2 h with poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate coating. We found that both of these fibers protected neurons and decreased ROS generation from GIE in organotypic spinal cord slice culture. Thus, fiber mats represent a promising therapeutic for UA release to treat patients who have suffered a SCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


  • glutamate-induced excitotoxicity
  • neuroprotection
  • poly(ε-caprolactone) fibers
  • reactive oxygen species
  • spinal cord organotypicculture
  • uric acid


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