Injured axons of the peripheral nerve are able to regenerate and, eventually, reinnervate target organs. However, functional recovery is usually poor after severe nerve injuries. The switch of Schwann cells to a proliferative state, secretion of trophic factors, and the presence of extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules (such as collagen, laminin, or fibronectin) in the distal stump are key elements to create a permissive environment for axons to grow. In this review, we focus attention on the ECM components and their tropic role in axonal regeneration. These components can also be used as molecular cues to guide the axons through artificial nerve guides in attempts to better mimic the natural environment found in a degenerating nerve. Most used scaffolds tested are based on natural molecules that form the ECM, but use of synthetic polymers and functionalization of hydrogels are bringing new options. Progress in tissue engineering will eventually lead to the design of composite artificial nerve grafts that may replace the use of autologous nerve grafts to sustain regeneration over long gaps. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.
|Title of host publication||International Review of Neurobiology|
|Number of pages||18|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2013|
- Artificial nerve graft
- Extracellular matrix
- Nerve regeneration
- Tissue engineering