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Injectable Neurotrophic Factor Delivery System Supporting Retinal Ganglion Cell Survival and Regeneration Following Optic Nerve Crush

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journal contribution
posted on 23.07.2018, 00:00 by Melissa R. Laughter, James R. Bardill, David A. Ammar, Brisa Pena, David J. Calkins, Daewon Park
In general, neurons belonging to the central nervous system (CNS), such as retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), do not regenerate. Due to this, strategies have emerged aimed at protecting and regenerating these cells. Neurotrophic factor (NTF) supplementation has been a promising approach but is limited by length of delivery and delivery vehicle. For this study, we tested a polymeric delivery system (sulfonated reverse thermal gel or SRTG) engineered to deliver cilliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), while also being injectable. A rat optic nerve crush (ONC) model was used to determine the neuroprotective and regenerative capacity of our system. The results demonstrate that one single intravitreal injection of SRTG-CNTF following ONC showed significant protection of RGC survival at both 1 and 2 week time points, when compared to the control groups. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in the RGC count between the eyes that received the SRTG-CNTF following ONC and a healthy control eye. Intravitreal injection of the polymer system also induced noticeable axon regeneration 500 μm downstream from the lesion site compared to all other control groups. There was a significant increase in Müller cell response in groups that received the SRTG-CNTF injection following optic nerve crush also indicative of a regenerative response. Finally, higher concentrations of CNTF released from SRTG-CNTF showed a protective effect on RGCs and Müller cell response at a longer time point (4 weeks). In conclusion, we were able to show a neuroprotective and regenerative effect of this polymer SRTG-CNTF delivery system and the viability for treatment of neurodegenerations.