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Cryogel scaffolds for regionally constrained delivery of lysophosphatidylcholine to central nervous system slice cultures: A model of focal demyelination for multiple sclerosis research.

TitleCryogel scaffolds for regionally constrained delivery of lysophosphatidylcholine to central nervous system slice cultures: A model of focal demyelination for multiple sclerosis research.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsEigel D, Zoupi L, Sekizar S, Welzel PB, Werner C, Williams AC, Newland B
JournalActa Biomater
Date Published2019 Aug 16

The pathology of multiple sclerosis (MS) is typified by focal demyelinated areas of the brain and spinal cord, which results in axonal degeneration and atrophy. Although the field has made much progress in developing immunomodulatory therapies to reduce the occurrence of these focal lesions, there is a conspicuous lack of licensed effective therapies to reduce axonal degeneration or promote repair. Remyelination, carried out by oligodendrocytes, does occur in MS, and is protective against axonal degeneration. Unfortunately, remyelination is not very efficient, and ultimately fails and so there is a research focus to generate new therapeutics to enhance remyelination leading to neuroprotection. To develop these therapies, we need preclinical models that well reflect remyelination in MS. We have previously characterized an ex vivo model that uses lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) to cause acute and global demyelination of tissue slices, followed by spontaneous remyelination, which has been widely used as a surrogate for in vivo rodent models of demyelination. However, this ex vivo model lacks the focal demyelinated lesions seen in MS, surrounded by normal tissue from which the repairing oligodendrocytes are derived. Therefore, to improve the model, we have developed and characterized small macroporous cryogel scaffolds for controlled/regional delivery of LPC with diameters of either 0.5, 1 or 2 mm. Placement of LPC loaded scaffolds adjacent to ex vivo cultured mouse brain and spinal cord slices induced focal areas of demyelination in proximity to the scaffold. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first such report of spatial mimicry of the in vivo condition in ex vivo tissue culture. This will allow not only the investigation into focal lesions, but also provides a better platform technology with which to test remyelination-promoting therapeutics. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: This manuscript is the first report of using macroporous hydrogels (cryogels) as a research tool for lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) delivery, in order to create an ex vivo model of focal demyelination in the brain and spinal cord, which is of great relevance to multiple sclerosis research. Here, we transform an existing ex vivo model of demyelination by delivering LPC to focal regions of brain and spinal cord slice cultures. We have developed an easy-to-handle cylindrical and macroporous PEG-based sponge-like scaffold material (cryogel) that can deliver LPC only to a small area of the slice. Such cryogels are ideal as a delivery system in this culture model as they exhibit a soft but robust nature, with high mechanical deformability in their dry and swollen state, with no need to stay permanently hydrated. In addition, the synthesis of these cryogels is simple and easy to reproduce via photochemical cryopolymerisation using a PEG-diacrylate monomer and a photoinitiator, which are both commercially available. This more accurate model of demyelination will not only allow researchers to gain a better understanding of the CNS remyelination process in diseases such as MS, but also provides a platform technology, which could be utilized to screen and test pro-remyelination compounds which may help to find new therapeutics for progressive MS.

Alternate JournalActa Biomater
PubMed ID31425890
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