Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Anatomy & Neurobiology

First Advisor

Raymond Colello


Spinal cord injury results in loss of motor function and sensory perception. A myriad of obstacles prevent axonal regeneration and ultimately functional recovery in those afflicted with spinal cord injury. Combinatorial strategies addressing many of these obstacles simultaneously have shown promising results. Laboratories investigating contusional spinal cord injuries must overcome the formation of a fluid filled cyst, a physical gap that axons must traverse, at the injury epicenter. To fill the cyst, our lab has generated a 3-D electrospun matrix that is capable of directing neurite outgrowth, delivering neurotrophic support, and reducing the activity of neuroinhibitory compounds. These electrospun matrices were surgically implanted into female Long Evans Hooded rats aged approximately 60 days using a complete transection model of SCI. Following injury, rats with implants showed greater functional recovery than controls. In Chapter 1, we introduce spinal cord injury, the epidemiology, pathology and potential for regeneration, followed by our novel electrospun implant. Chapter 2 details the materials and methods. In Chapter 3, we relate the functional recovery seen to a histological analysis. The histological analysis consists of three parts: the implant integration into the host, the axons above, in and below the implant, and the functional vascular supply found within the implant. In Chapter 4, we designed a modified implant and discuss the use of this implant in vivo. With our modified implant we were able to demonstrate cellular influx and the generation of a vascular network within the implant, but poor axonal regeneration. Finally in chapter 5, I discuss potential future modifications to our electrospun matrix as well as suggestions to consider for improved functional outcome.


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Date of Submission

May 2010