We have developed an alginate gel crosslinked with covalent bonds for regeneration of dermis, nerve, and bone. Recently, a novel matrix (H/A gel) which consists of heparin and alginate covalently crosslinked with ethylenediamine, was designed. It can stabilize and release biologically active basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) for 1 month, which is one of the heparin-binding growth factors. In the present report, we examined the effect of this novel H/A gel on nerve regeneration in the rat sciatic nerve. In this study, regenerated axons in H/A gel with bFGF grew faster than in ordinary alginate gel with bFGF in the early stage. Myelinated fibers showed a tendency to increase in diameter toward the normal size in the later stage. Nerve bundles in the implantation exhibited minimal fibrosis and good vascularization. H/A gel with bFGF exhibited better-developed vascularization than ordinary alginate gel with bFGF. These findings suggested that H/A gel with bFGF could serve not only as an efficient cellular scaffold, but also as a stabilizing matrix for bFGF for peripheral nerve regeneration.
- Artificial nerve
- Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF)
- Crosslinked gel
- Nerve regeneration