Objective: We have previously described a technique developed in our laboratory to create transplantable living axon tracts of several centimeters in length. In this paper, we describe how these engineered neural tissue constructs can be used to create a novel neuroelectrical interface with the regenerating peripheral nervous system, to potentially enable afferent and efferent communications with prosthetic devices. Methods: Using continuous mechanical tension, we have generated axon tracts of up to 10 cm in length, spanning two populations of neurons in vitro. We have now adapted this stretch-growth paradigm to include a mechanically compliant multi-electrode array that is attached to one of the neuron populations. Once the desired axon length has been reached, the neuroelectrode construct is completely embedded in a supportive hydrogel matrix and affixed to the transected sciatic nerve. Results: Building upon our previous work with peripheral nerve repair, we have designed our neural interface to ensure transplant stability and firm attachment to the electrode array substrate. Discussion: Our preliminary findings indicate that the interface not only maintains its orientation, but also is conducive to host nerve ingrowth. Our ongoing analysis seeks to characterize transplanted neuronal survival, synaptic integration, and functional connectivity. This research provides an opportunity to evaluate an entirely new approach in restoring motor and sensory functions of patients with peripheral nerve damage.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- Neural interface
- Neurally controlled prosthesis
- Peripheral nerve regeneration
- Tissue engineering