Reduced Graphene Oxide-GelMA-PCL Hybrid Nanofibers for Peripheral Nerve Regeneration
Graphene oxide currently used in peripheral nerve engineering has certain limitations, such as cytotoxicity and lack of electrical conductivity, which are two parameters playing a vital role in regulating nerve-associated cells’ behaviors. In this work, we engineered the reduced graphene oxide-GelMA-PCL nanofibers nerve guidance conduits by electrospinning. The incorporation of rGO into the GelMA/PCL matrix significantly enhanced the electrical conductivity and biocompatibility of the hybrid materials. And, hybrid nanofibers with low concentrations of rGO (0.25 and 0.5 wt%) could significantly improve Schwann cell proliferation. More importantly, rGO/GelMA/PCL hybrid nanofibers could activate epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related gene expression of Schwann cells. In vivo study, rGO/GelMA/PCL nerve guidance conduits could promote both sensory/motor nerve regeneration and functional recovery of rats. Our composite strategy of combining rGO within a biocompatible nanofibers scaffold is simple but effective in improving tissue engineering outcomes. The rGO/GelMA/PCL hybrid nanofibers have great potential in peripheral nerve tissue engineering. They will also provide an experimental basis for the development of further electrical stimulation in peripheral nerve regeneration.