Spinal Cord Tissue Engineering via Covalent Interaction Between Biomaterials and Cells

Weiyuan Liu,Bai Xu, Shuaijing Zhao, Shuyu Han, Rui Quan, Wenbin Liu, Chunnan Ji, Bing Chen, Zhifeng Xiao, Man Yin, Yanyun Yin, Jianwu Dai, Yannan Zhao

Science Advances


Noncovalent interactions between cells and environmental cues have been recognized as fundamental physiological interactions that regulate cell behavior. However, the effects of the covalent interactions between cells and biomaterials on cell behavior have not been examined. Here, we demonstrate a combined strategy based on covalent conjugation between biomaterials (collagen fibers/lipid nanoparticles) and various cells (exogenous neural progenitor cells/astrocytes/endogenous tissue-resident cells) to promote neural regeneration after spinal cord injury (SCI). We found that metabolic azido-labeled human neural progenitor cells conjugated on dibenzocyclooctyne-modified collagen fibers significantly promoted cell adhesion, spreading, and differentiation compared with noncovalent adhesion. In addition, dibenzocyclooctyne-modified lipid nanoparticles containing edaravone, a well-known ROS scavenger, could target azide-labeled spinal cord tissues or transplanted azide-modified astrocytes to improve the SCI microenvironment. The combined application of these covalent conjugation strategies in a rat SCI model boosted neural regeneration, suggesting that the covalent interactions between cells and biomaterials have great potential for tissue regeneration.