Development of transplantable nervous tissue constructs comprised of stretch-grown axons

Bryan J. Pfister, Akira Iwata, Andrew G. Taylor, John A. Wolf, David F. Meaney, Douglas H. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Pursuing a new approach to nervous system repair, fasciculated axon tracts grown in vitro were developed into nervous tissue constructs designed to span peripheral nerve or spinal cord lesions. We optimized the newfound process of extreme axon stretch growth to maximize the number and length of axon tracts, reach an unprecedented axon growth-rate of 1 cm/day, and create 5 cm long axon tracts in 8 days to serve as the core component of a living nervous tissue construct. Immunocytochemical analysis confirmed that elongating fibers were axons, and that all major cytoskeletal constituents were present across the stretch-growth regions. We formed a transplantable nervous tissue construct by encasing the elongated cells in an 80% collagen hydrogel, removing them from culture, and inserting them into a synthetic conduit. Alternatively, we induced axon stretch growth directly on a surgical membrane that could be removed from the elongation device, and formed into a cylindrical construct suitable for transplant. The ability to rapidly create living nervous tissue constructs that recapitulates the uniaxial orientations of the original nerve offers an unexplored and potentially complimentary direction in nerve repair. Ideally, bridging nerve damage with living axon tracts may serve to establish or promote new functional connections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 15 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • Axon growth
  • Nerve construct
  • Nerve repair
  • Peripheral nerve injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Tissue engineering


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