Sustained delivery of bioactive neurotrophin-3 to the injured spinal cord†
Spinal cord injury is a debilitating condition that currently lacks effective clinical treatment. Neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) has been demonstrated in experimental animal models to induce axonal regeneration and functional improvements, yet its local delivery remains challenging. For ultimate clinical translation, a drug delivery system is required for localized, sustained, and minimally invasive release. Here, an injectable composite drug delivery system (DDS) composed of biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles dispersed in a hyaluronan/methyl cellulose hydrogel was injected into the intrathecal space to achieve acute local delivery to the spinal cord after a thoracic clip compression injury. NT-3 was encapsulated in the DDS and released in vitro for up to 50 d. With a single injection of the DDS into the intrathecal space of the injured spinal cord, NT-3 diffused ventrally through the cord and was detectable in the spinal cord for at least 28 d therein. Delivery of NT-3 resulted in significant axon growth with no effect on the astroglial response to injury in comparison with vehicle and injury controls. NT-3 treatment promoted functional improvements at 21 d according to the Basso Beattie Bresnahan locomotor scale in comparison with the DDS alone. The sustained delivery of bioactive NT-3 to the injured spinal cord achieved in this study demonstrates the promise of this DDS for central nervous system repair.
- This article is part of the themed collection: In celebration of Michael Sefton’s 65th birthday