In vitro neural injury model for optimization of tissue-engineered constructs

D. Kacy Cullen, Sarah E. Stabenfeldt, Crystal M. Simon, Ciara C. Tate, Michelle C. LaPlaca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Stem cell transplantation is a promising approach for the treatment of traumatic brain injury, although the therapeutic benefits are limited by a high degree of donor cell death. Tissue engineering is a strategy to improve donor cell survival by providing structural and adhesive support. However, optimization prior to clinical implementation requires expensive and time-consuming in vivo studies. Accordingly, we have developed a three-dimensional (3-D) in vitro model of the injured host-transplant interface that can be used as a test bed for high-throughput evaluation of tissue-engineered strategies. The neuronal-astrocytic cocultures in 3-D were subjected to mechanical loading (inducing cell death and specific astrogliotic alterations) or to treatment with transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), inducing astrogliosis without affecting viability. Neural stem cells (NSCs) were then delivered to the cocultures. A sharp increase in the number of TUNEL+ donor cells was observed in the injured cocultures compared to that in the TGF-β1-treated and control cocultures, suggesting that factors related to mechanical injury, but not strictly astrogliosis, were detrimental to donor cell survival. We then utilized the mechanically injured cocultures to evaluate a methylcellulose-laminin (MC-LN) scaffold designed to reduce apoptosis. When NSCs were codelivered with MC alone or MC-LN to the injured cocultures, the number of caspase+ donor cells significantly decreased compared to that with vehicle delivery (medium). Collectively, these results demonstrate the utility of an in vitro model as a preanimal test bed and support further investigation of a tissue-engineering approach for chaperoned NSC delivery targeted to improve donor cell survival in neural transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3642-3651
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Laminin
  • Neural stem cells
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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