Engineering an in situ crosslinkable hydrogel for enhanced remyelination

Xiaowei Li, Xiaoyan Liu, Lin Cui, Christopher Brunson, Wen Zhao, Narayan R. Bhat, Ning Zhang, Xuejun Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Remyelination has to occur to fully regenerate injured spinal cords or brain tissues. A growing body of evidence has suggested that exogenous cell transplantation is one promising strategy to promote remyelination. However, direct injection of neural stem cells or oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) to the lesion site may not be an optimal therapeutic strategy due to poor viability and functionality of transplanted cells resulted from the local hostile tissue environment. The overall objective of this study was to engineer an injectable biocompatible hydrogel system as a supportive niche to provide a regeneration permissive microenvironment for transplanted OPCs to survive, functionally differentiate, and remyelinate central nervous system (CNS) lesions. A highly biocompatible hydrogel, based on thiol-functionalized hyaluronic acid and thiolfunctionalized gelatin, which can be crosslinked by poly-(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA), was used. These hydrogels were optimized first regarding cell adhesive properties and mechanical properties to best support the growth properties of OPCs in culture. Transplanted OPCs with the hydrogels optimized in vitro exhibited enhanced survival and oligodendrogenic differentiation and were able to remyelinate demyelinated axons inside ethidium bromide (EB) demyelination lesion in adult spinal cord. This study provides a new possible therapeutic approach to treat CNS injuries in which cell therapies may be essential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1127-1136
Number of pages10
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomaterials
  • Oligodendrocyte progenitor cells
  • Spinal cord regeneration
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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