Acellular biologic scaffolds are commonly used to facilitate the constructive remodeling of three of the four traditional tissue types: connective, epithelial, and muscle tissues. However, the application of extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds to neural tissue has been limited, particularly in the central nervous system (CNS) where intrinsic regenerative potential is low. The ability of decellularized liver, lung, muscle, and other tissues to support tissue-specific cell phenotype and function suggests that CNS-derived biologic scaffolds may help to overcome barriers to mammalian CNS repair. A method was developed to create CNS ECM scaffolds from porcine optic nerve, spinal cord, and brain, with decellularization verified against established criteria. CNS ECM scaffolds retained neurosupportive proteins and growth factors and, when tested with the PC12 cell line in vitro, were cytocompatible and stimulated proliferation, migration, and differentiation. Urinary bladder ECM (a non-CNS ECM scaffold) was also cytocompatible and stimulated PC12 proliferation but inhibited migration rather than acting as a chemoattractant over the same concentration range while inducing greater rates of PC12 differentiation compared to CNS ECM. These results suggest that CNS ECM may provide tissue-specific advantages in CNS regenerative medicine applications and that ECM scaffolds in general may aid functional recovery after CNS injury. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
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