Hydrogel for cell housing in the brain and in the spinal cord

Giuseppe Perale, Carmen Giordano, Fabio Bianco, Filippo Rossi, Marta Tunesi, Francesco Daniele, Filippo Crivelli, Michela Matteoli, Maurizio Masi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Neurons in the adult mammalian central nervous system do not proliferate or renew themselves and consequently strong interest in cell replacement therapies to repair brain and spinal cord damages has emerged in the last decade. Methods: An injectable resorbable hydrogel with a controlled nanostructure, specifically designed for neural cell housing, was developed together with a new protocol for building three-dimensional (3D) biohybrid cell/hydrogel constructs: cells are housed within the polymeric matrix which is directly built with a specific cell culture media. This matrix was tested with standard glial populations, primary astrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells. Results: Physico-chemical characterization of the hydrogel matrix confirmed a 2- week (+ 2 days) stability before massive degradation; mean mesh size of about 5 nm and thixotropic behavior with transition yield stress at 60+5 Pa. Cell survival within the hydrogel resulted in about 55±5% (minimum value) survivals, data also confirmed by optical assessments. Cell viability also remained high after extraction from the gel, indicating survival to inclusion latency period. Conclusions: Since the intimate structure of the gel mimics extracellular matrix cells as would be expected to be found in an in vivo context, this polymeric formulation is a promising base for building 3D constructs for neural cell housing, in which cells are embedded and kept alive directly from the time of polycondensation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-303
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Artificial Organs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Hydrogels
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Scaffold
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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