Hydrogel-based scaffolds to support intrathecal stem cell transplantation as a gateway to the spinal cord: clinical needs, biomaterials, and imaging technologies

J. Miguel Oliveira, Luisa Carvalho, Joana Silva-Correia, Sílvia Vieira, Malgorzata Majchrzak, Barbara Lukomska, Luiza Stanaszek, Paulina Strymecka, Izabela Malysz-Cymborska, Dominika Golubczyk, Lukasz Kalkowski, Rui L. Reis, Miroslaw Janowski, Piotr Walczak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The prospects for cell replacement in spinal cord diseases are impeded by inefficient stem cell delivery. The deep location of the spinal cord and complex surgical access, as well as densely packed vital structures, question the feasibility of the widespread use of multiple spinal cord punctures to inject stem cells. Disorders characterized by disseminated pathology are particularly appealing for the distribution of cells globally throughout the spinal cord in a minimally invasive fashion. The intrathecal space, with access to a relatively large surface area along the spinal cord, is an attractive route for global stem cell delivery, and, indeed, is highly promising, but the success of this approach relies on the ability of cells (1) to survive in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), (2) to adhere to the spinal cord surface, and (3) to migrate, ultimately, into the parenchyma. Intrathecal infusion of cell suspension, however, has been insufficient and we postulate that embedding transplanted cells within hydrogel scaffolds will facilitate reaching these goals. In this review, we focus on practical considerations that render the intrathecal approach clinically viable, and then discuss the characteristics of various biomaterials that are suitable to serve as scaffolds. We also propose strategies to modulate the local microenvironment with nanoparticle carriers to improve the functionality of cellular grafts. Finally, we provide an overview of imaging modalities for in vivo monitoring and characterization of biomaterials and stem cells. This comprehensive review should serve as a guide for those planning preclinical and clinical studies on intrathecal stem cell transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
Journalnpj Regenerative Medicine
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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