PublicationsThe Effects of the Combination of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells and Nanofiber-Hydrogel Composite on Repair of the Contused Spinal Cord
A bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) transplant and a bioengineered nanofiber-hydrogel composite (NHC) have been shown to stimulate nervous tissue repair in the contused spinal cord in rodent models. Here, these two modalities were combined to assess their repair effects in the contused spinal cord in adult rats. Cohorts of contused rats were treated with MSC in NHC (MSC-NHC), MSC in phosphate-buffered saline (MSC-PBS), NHC, or PBS injected into the contusion site at 3 days post-injury. One week after injury, there were significantly fewer CD68+ cells in the contusion with MSC-NHC and NHC, but not MSC-PBS. The reduction in CD86+ cells in the injury site with MSC-NHC was mainly attributed to NHC. One and eight weeks after injury, we found a greater CD206+/CD86+ cell ratio with MSC-NHC or NHC, but not MSC-PBS, indicating a shift from a pro-inflammatory towards an anti-inflammatory milieu in the injury site. Eight weeks after injury, the injury size was significantly reduced with MSC-NHC, NHC, and MSC-PBS. At this time, astrocyte, and axon presence in the injury site was greater with MSC-NHC compared with MSC-PBS. We did not find a significant effect of NHC on MSC transplant survival, and hind limb function was similar across all groups. However, we did find fewer macrophages at 1 week post-injury, more macrophages polarized towards a pro-regenerative phenotype at 1 and 8 weeks after injury, and reduced injury volume, more astrocytes, and more axons at 8 weeks after injury in rats with MSC-NHC and NHC alone compared with MSC-PBS; these findings were especially significant between rats with MSC-NHC and MSC-PBS. The data support further study in the use of an NHC-MSC combination transplant in the contused spinal cord.