Investigation of glycosaminoglycan mimetic scaffolds for neurite growth

Roseline Menezes, Sharareh Hashemi, Richard Vincent, George Collins, James Meyer, Marcus Foston, Treena L. Arinzeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Spinal cord injury can lead to severe dysfunction as a result of limited nerve regeneration that is due to an inhibitory environment created at the site of injury. Neural tissue engineering using materials that closely mimic the extracellular matrix (ECM)during neural development could enhance neural regeneration. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which are sulfated polysaccharides, have been shown to modulate axonal outgrowth in neural tissue depending upon the position and degree of sulfation. Cellulose sulfate (CelS), which is a GAG mimetic, was evaluated for its use in promoting neurite extension. Aligned fibrous scaffolds containing gelatin blended with 0.25% partially sulfated cellulose sulfate (pCelS), having sulfate predominantly at the 6-carbon position of the glucose monomer unit, and fully sulfated cellulose sulfate (fCelS), which is sulfated at the 2-, 3-, and 6-carbon positions of the glucose monomer unit, were fabricated using the electrospinning method. Comparisons were made with scaffolds containing native GAGs, chondroitin sulfate-A (CS-A)and chondroitin sulfate-C (CS-C), which were obtained from commercial sources. CS-A and CS-C are present in neural tissue ECM. The degree of sulfation and position of sulfate groups was determined using elemental analysis, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Raman microspectroscopy, and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). In vitro studies examined both nerve growth factor (NGF)binding on scaffolds and neurite extension by dorsal root ganglion (DRG)neurons. NGF binding was highest on scaffolds containing pCelS and fCelS. Neurite extension was greatest for scaffolds containing fCelS followed by pCelS, with the lowest outgrowth on the CS-A containing scaffolds, suggesting that the degree and position of sulfation of CelS was permissible for neurite outgrowth. This study demonstrated that cellulose sulfate, as a GAG mimetic, could be used for future neural tissue regeneration application. Statement of signficance: Scaffolds that closely mimic the native extracellular matrix (ECM)during development may be a promising approach to enhance neural regeneration. Here, we reported a glycosaminoglycan (GAG)mimetic derived from cellulose that promotes neurite extension over native GAGs, chondroitin sulfate-A (CS-A)and chondroitin sulfate-C (CS-C), which are present in neural ECM. Depending upon the degree and position of sulfation, the GAG mimetic can impact nerve growth factor binding and permissive neurite outgrowth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-178
Number of pages10
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - May 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


  • Cellulose sulfate
  • Electrospun fiber
  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Neural repair
  • Neurite outgrowth


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