Peripheral nerve injuries, causing sensory and motor impairment, affect a great number of patients annually. It is therefore important to incorporate different strategies to promote nerve healing. Among the treatment options, however, the efficacy of nerve conduits is often compromised by their lack of living cells, insufficient growth factors, and absence of the extracellular matrix (ECM)-like structure. To improve the functional recovery, we aimed to develop a natural biodegradable multichanneled scaffold characterized with aligned electrospun nanofibers and neurotrophic gradient (MC/AN/NG) to guide axon outgrowth. The gelatin-based conduits mimicked the fascicular architecture of natural nerve ECM. The multichanneled (MC) scaffolds, cross-linked with microbial transglutaminase, possessed sustainable mechanical stability. Meanwhile, the release profile of dual neurotrophic factors, nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), exhibited a temporal-controlled manner. In vitro, the differentiated neural stem cells effectively extended their neurites along the aligned nanofibers. Besides, in the treated group, the cell density increased in high NGF concentration regions of the gradient membrane, and the BDNF significantly promoted myelination. In a rabbit sciatic nerve transection in vivo model, the MC/AN/NG scaffold showed superior nerve recovery and less muscle atrophy comparable to autograft. By integrating multiple strategies to promote peripheral nerve regeneration, the MC/AN/NG scaffolds as nerve guidance conduits showed promising results and efficacious treatment alternatives for autologous nerve grafts.
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