Benefits of Spine Stabilization with Biodegradable Scaffolds in Spinal Cord Injured Rats

Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods 2013 Volume 19, Issue 2, 101-108

Spine stabilization upon spinal cord injury (SCI) is a standard procedure in clinical practice, but rarely employed in experimental models. Moreover, the application of biodegradable biomaterials for this would come as an advantage as it would eliminate the presence of a nondegradable prosthesis within the vertebral bone. Therefore, in the present work, we propose the use of a new biodegradable device specifically developed for spine stabilization in a rat model of SCI. A 3D scaffold based on a blend of starch with polycaprolactone was implanted, replacing delaminated vertebra, in male Wistar rats with a T8-T9 spinal hemisection. The impact of spinal stabilization on the locomotor behavior was then evaluated for a period of 12 weeks. Locomotor evaluation—assessed by Basso, Beatie, and Bresnahan test; rotarod; and open field analysis—revealed that injured rats subjected to spine stabilization significantly improved their motor performance, including higher coordination and rearing activity when compared with SCI rats without stabilization. Histological analysis further revealed that the presence of the scaffolds not only stabilized the area, but also simultaneously prevented the infiltration of the injury site by connective tissue. Overall, these results reveal that SCI stabilization using a biodegradable scaffold at the vertebral bone level leads to an improvement of the motor deficits and is a relevant element for the successful treatment of SCI.