Aligned Fingolimod-Releasing Electrospun Fibers Increase Dorsal Root Ganglia Neurite Extension and Decrease Schwann Cell Expression of Promyelinating Factors

Devan L. Puhl, Jessica L. Funnell, Anthony R. D’Amato, Jonathan Bao, Dmitri V. Zagorevski, Yelena Pressman, Daniel Morone, Agnes E. Haggerty, Martin Oudega, Ryan J. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Researchers are investigating the use of biomaterials with aligned guidance cues, like those provided by aligned electrospun fibers, to facilitate axonal growth across critical-length peripheral nerve defects. To enhance the regenerative outcomes further, these aligned fibers can be designed to provide local, sustained release of therapeutics. The drug fingolimod improved peripheral nerve regeneration in preclinical rodent models by stimulating a pro-regenerative Schwann cell phenotype and axonal growth. However, the systemic delivery of fingolimod for nerve repair can lead to adverse effects, so it is necessary to develop a means of providing sustained delivery of fingolimod local to the injury. Here we created aligned fingolimod-releasing electrospun fibers that provide directional guidance cues in combination with the local, sustained release of fingolimod to enhance neurite outgrowth and stimulate a pro-regenerative Schwann cell phenotype. Electrospun fiber scaffolds were created by blending fingolimod into poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) at a w/w% (drug/polymer) of 0.0004, 0.02, or 0.04%. We examined the effectiveness of these scaffolds to stimulate neurite extension in vitro by measuring neurite outgrowth from whole and dissociated dorsal root ganglia (DRG). Subsequently, we characterized Schwann cell migration and gene expression in vitro. The results show that drug-loaded PLGA fibers released fingolimod for 28 days, which is the longest reported release of fingolimod from electrospun fibers. Furthermore, the 0.02% fingolimod-loaded fibers enhanced neurite outgrowth from whole and dissociated DRG neurons, increased Schwann cell migration, and reduced the Schwann cell expression of promyelinating factors. The in vitro findings show the potential of the aligned fingolimod-releasing electrospun fibers to enhance peripheral nerve regeneration and serve as a basis for future in vivo studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number937
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - Aug 14 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Schwann cells
  • biomaterial
  • dorsal root ganglia
  • drug delivery
  • electrospun fibers
  • fingolimod hydrochloride
  • neurons
  • peripheral nervous system injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering


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