Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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Multi-factorial nerve guidance conduit engineering improves outcomes in inflammation, angiogenesis and large defect nerve repair

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-11-11, 11:29 authored by Alan Hibbitts, Zuzana Koci, Simone Kneafsey, Amos Matsiko, Leyla Žilić, Adrian DervanAdrian Dervan, Paige Hinton, Gang Chen, Brenton CavanaghBrenton Cavanagh, Jennifer DowlingJennifer Dowling, Claire McCoyClaire McCoy, Conor BuckleyConor Buckley, Simon J Archibald, Fergal O'BrienFergal O'Brien
Nerve guidance conduits (NGCs) are sub-optimal for long-distance injuries with inflammation and poor vascularization related to poor axonal repair. This study used a multi-factorial approach to create an optimized biomaterial NGC to address each of these issues. Through stepwise optimization, a collagen-chondroitin-6-sulfate (Coll-CS) biomaterial was functionalized with extracellular matrix (ECM) components; fibronectin, laminin 1 and laminin 2 (FibL1L2) in specific ratios. A snap-cooled freeze-drying process was then developed with optimal pore architecture and alignment to guide axonal bridging. Culture of adult rat dorsal root ganglia on NGCs demonstrated significant improvements in inflammation, neurogenesis and angiogenesis in the specific Fib:L1:L2 ratio of 1:4:1. In clinically relevant, large 15 mm rat sciatic nerve defects, FibL1L2-NGCs demonstrated significant improvements in axonal density and angiogenesis compared to unmodified NGCs with functional equivalence to autografts. Therefore, a multiparameter ECM-driven strategy can significantly improve axonal repair across large defects, without exogenous cells or growth factors.


Science Foundation Ireland and Integra Life Sciences through the AMBER centre (Project No.TP27-1846A1and12/RC/2278)

Irish Rugby Football Union Charitable Trust and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI/12/RC/2278_2 and SFI 16/FRL/3855))

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI 16/FRL/3855)



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Hibbitts AJ, et al. Multi-factorial nerve guidance conduit engineering improves outcomes in inflammation, angiogenesis and large defect nerve repair. Matrix Biol. 2022;106:34-57.

Publication Date

13 January 2022

PubMed ID



  • Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG)
  • Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine
  • Amber (Advanced Material & Bioengineering Research) Centre
  • Physiology and Medical Physics
  • School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Research Area

  • Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders
  • Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine
  • Immunity, Infection and Inflammation
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Vascular Biology
  • Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Elsevier BV


  • Published Version (Version of Record)