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Establishment of Cocultures of Osteoblasts, Schwann Cells, and Neurons Towards a Tissue-Engineered Approach for Orofacial Reconstruction

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In orofacial reconstruction not only the osseous structures themselves but also neighboring cranial nerves need to be regenerated. To replace autologous bone implants, biocompatible tissue-engineered scaffolds are under investigation at least for bone replacement but until now these studies have not focused on parallel reconstruction of injured cranial nerves. The present study contributes to the development of optimized tissue-engineered products that will enable regeneration of both bone and nervous tissue. For the first time, cocultures of primary osteoblasts (rat or human) and primary Schwann cells (rat or human) were established. The suitability of monocultures of osteoblasts and cocultures of osteoblasts plus Schwann cells as substrate for sensory neurons as well as motoneurons was tested here. The results suggest that whereas osteoblasts provide a good substrate for sensory neurons, motoneurons depend on the presence of Schwann cells for survival and neurite outgrowth. For prolonged availability of regeneration-promoting growth factors at the site of the graft, those proteins should be delivered by the transplanted cells themselves. To enable this, we established electroporation-based nonviral transfection of osteoblasts as well as Schwann cells. Our new cell culture system will enable investigations of the effect of graft-derived growth factors on osteoblasts and Schwann cells as well as on neurite outgrowth from cocultured neurons of the sensory and motor system.

Keywords: Bone tissue; Nervous tissue; Orofacial reconstruction; Osteoblast; Schwann cells; Tissue engineering

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Neuroanatomy, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany, Center of Systems Neuroscience (ZSN) Hannover, Hannover, Germany 2: Department of Neuroanatomy, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany 3: Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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