How neurons heal brain injury?

Repairing and regenerating brain tissue is a daunting task. Left to its own devices, the brain does not regenerate the synapses, blood vessels, or other structures lost after an injury, such as a stroke. Instead, dead brain tissue is absorbed, leaving a cavity devoid of anything recognizable as healthy brain tissue.

But that hasn’t stopped researchers from trying to reconstruct damaged brains. A common approach used by biomedical engineers is to provide a new medium for diverse brain tissue fragments to enter, containing various nutrients and biological instructions to encourage growth. .


While scientists in the field have so far found a homogeneous, colloidal biomaterial to support neural development, Tatiana Segura, a professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University , developed a different approach. Her biomaterial made to encourage all types of healing and growth is made of millions of tiny viscous spheres packed together to form a stable scaffold.

“Most other labs use non-porous hydrogels like large amounts of Jell-O, and cells have to ingest it before they can produce the material to regrow,” says Segura. “Ours are like soft oranges packed in a box, providing a series of pockets and spaces for cells to move through and grow into.”

Nerve cell growth Heals brain damage

The orange’s boxy approach – known as microporous seed media (MAP) – has been shown to be promising in a variety of tissues such as skin and bone. And in 2018, it was shown to reduce inflammation and promote neural progenitor cell (NPC) migration into stroke lesions.

This observation led Katrina Wilson, a doctoral candidate in Segura’s lab, to design MAP scaffolds to further guide how these progenitor cells differentiate. Not quite as immature and ingenious as stem cells, neural progenitor cells still have the potential to become most, if not all, of the cell types found in the brain. Being able to tell them where to go and what to be would be a boon for developing brain restorative treatments.

In the human body, stem and progenitor cells respond to biological signals from various structures and proteins found around them. One source of guidance comes from the laminin proteins that make up the body’s biological scaffolding known as the extracellular matrix.

In the new paper, Wilson embedded different combinations of these protein parts called peptides into his synthetic MAP scaffold and then watched what happened – literally. She created time-lapse videos over several days showing how progenitor cells respond to peptide-coated MAP scaffolds.

“We’ve seen cells attach to the scaffold over time and actually move it around,” says Segura. “We thought it was just a gym in the woods with kids playing on it. But that’s not what we saw, the cells exert enough force on the scaffold to make it move. ”

However, this observation is not uniform for all peptide cocktails. MAP scaffolds modified with another peptide eventually turn into tiny spheres called neurons, which do not move the scaffold but instead plunge in and out of different depths while retaining the ability to choose different growth paths. Both results could be useful for many medical applications, says Wilson.

“There is great potential for neurons to be used as developmental neurotoxicity research models or for drug screening, and the spreading and differentiated cells are highly applicable,” says Wilson. for our ongoing work in promoting tissue regeneration after stroke,” Wilson said. “While most platforms for this kind of work are stuck in two dimensions and are not suitable for simulating what is happening in a three-dimensional body, our platform is 3D and can be makes a great model to experiment with and understand how NPCs work.”

With many potential routes to pursue, Wilson says her next step is to take what she’s learned and apply the entire set of peptide signals to lab rat stroke models to see if Does it enhance cell recruitment and response to regenerate blood vessels and nerves?

Source: Eurekalert

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