Fabrication of a 3D Printed PCL Nerve Guide: In Vitro and In Vivo Testing

DURSUN USAL T., Yesiltepe M., Yucel D., Sara Y., Hasirci V.

MACROMOLECULAR BIOSCIENCE, vol.22, no.3, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/mabi.202100389
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Aerospace Database, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, BIOSIS, Chemical Abstracts Core, Communication Abstracts, Compendex, EMBASE, INSPEC, MEDLINE, Metadex, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: 3D printing, biodegradable nerve guide, peripheral nerve regeneration, rat sciatic nerve injury, Schwann cells, POLY(L-LACTIC ACID), SCHWANN-CELLS, CONDUITS, INJURY, SCAFFOLDS, REPAIR, RAT, DIFFERENTIATION, REGENERATION, NANOFIBERS
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Nerve guides are medical devices designed to guide proximal and distal ends of injured peripheral nerves in order to assist regeneration of the damaged nerves. A 3D-printed polycaprolactone (PCL) nerve guide using an aligned gelatin-poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) electrospun mat, seeded with PC12 and Schwann cells (SCs) is produced. During characterization with microCT and SEM porosity (55%), pore sizes (675 +/- 40 mu m), and fiber diameters (382 +/- 25 mu m) are determined. Electrospun fibers have degree of alignment of 7 degrees, indicating high potential for guidance. On Day 14, PC12 cells migrated from proximal to distal end of nerve guide when SCs are seeded on the guide. After 28 days, over 95% of PC12 are alive and aligned. PC12 cells express early differentiation marker beta-tubulin 10 times more than late marker NeuN. In a 10 mm rat sciatic nerve injury, functional recovery evaluated by using static sciatic index (SSI) is observed in mat-free guides and guides containing mat and SCs. Nerve conduction velocities are also improved in these groups. Histological stainings showed tissue growth around nerve guides with highest new tissue organization being observed with mat and cell-free guides. These suggest 3D-printed PCL nerve guides have significant potential for treatment of peripheral nerve injuries.