Motor and sensitive recovery after injection of a physically cross-linked PNIPAAm-g-PEG hydrogel in rat hemisectioned spinal cord


  • Bonnet Maxime
  • Trimaille Thomas
  • Brezun Jean-Michel
  • Feron François
  • Gigmes Didier
  • Marqueste Tanguy
  • Decherchi Patrick


  • Lesion
  • Biomaterial
  • Reflex
  • Inflammation
  • Sensorimotor loop


In line with experiments showing that implanted hydrogels are promising tools, we designed and injected, after a C2 spinal cord hemisection, a thermoresponsive and thermoreversible physically cross-linked poly(N-iso-propylacrylamide)-poly(ethylene glycol) copolymer in order to reduce functional deficits and provide a favorable environment to axotomized axons. Nasal olfactory ecto-mesenchymal stem cells were cultured on the hydrogel in order to verify its bio-compatibility. Then, inflammatory reaction (Interleukin-1β and 6, Tumor Necrosis Factor-α) was examined 15 days post-hydrogel injection. Functional recovery (postural and locomotor activities, muscle strength and tactile sensitivity) was assessed once a week, during 12 weeks. Finally, at 12 weeks post-injection, spinal reflexivity and ventilatory adjustments were measured, and the presence of glial cells and regenerated axons were determined in the injured area. Our results indicate that cells survived and proliferated on the hydrogel which, itself, did not induce an enhanced inflammation. Furthermore, we observed significant motor and sensitive improvements in hydrogel-injected animals. Hydrogel also induced H-reflex recovery close to control animals but no improved ventilatory adjustment to electrically-evoked isometric contractions. Finally, regrowing axons were visualized within the hydrogel with no glial cells colonization. Our results emphasize the effectiveness of our copolymer and its high therapeutic potential to repair the spinal cord after injury.

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