Usmani, 2020 1

2020 - 13/10/2020 PNAS 2020 117 (41) 25212-25218

Functional rewiring across spinal injuries via biomimetic nanofiber scaffolds

Sadaf Usmani,  Audrey Franceschi Biagioni,  Manuela Medelin,  Denis Scaini, Raffaele Casani,  Emily R. Aurand,  Daniel Padro, Ander Egimendia,  Pedro Ramos Cabrer,  Manuela Scarselli,  Maurizio De Crescenzi,  Maurizio Prato, and  Laura Ballerini


The regrowth of severed axons is fundamental to reestablish motor control after spinal-cord injury (SCI). Ongoing efforts to promote axonal regeneration after SCI have involved multiple strategies that have been only partially successful. Our study introduces an artificial carbon-nanotube based scaffold that, once implanted in SCI rats, improves motor function recovery. Confocal microscopy analysis plus fiber tracking by magnetic resonance imaging and neurotracer labeling of long-distance corticospinal axons suggest that recovery might be partly attributable to successful crossing of the lesion site by regenerating fibers. Since manipulating SCI microenvironment properties, such as mechanical and electrical ones, may promote biological responses, we propose this artificial scaffold as a prototype to exploit the physics governing spinal regenerative plasticity.


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