Affordable Access

Publisher Website

Tissue Engineering and Biomaterial Strategies to Elicit Endogenous Neuronal Replacement in the Brain

  • Purvis, Erin M.1, 2
  • O'Donnell, John C.1, 2
  • Chen, H. Isaac1, 2
  • Cullen, D. Kacy1, 2, 3
  • 1 Center for Brain Injury & Repair, Department of Neurosurgery, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA , (United States)
  • 2 Center for Neurotrauma, Neurodegeneration & Restoration, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA , (United States)
  • 3 Department of Bioengineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA , (United States)
Published Article
Frontiers in Neurology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Apr 28, 2020
DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2020.00344
PMID: 32411087
PMCID: PMC7199479
PubMed Central


Neurogenesis in the postnatal mammalian brain is known to occur in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and the subventricular zone. These neurogenic niches serve as endogenous sources of neural precursor cells that could potentially replace neurons that have been lost or damaged throughout the brain. As an example, manipulation of the subventricular zone to augment neurogenesis has become a popular strategy for attempting to replace neurons that have been lost due to acute brain injury or neurodegenerative disease. In this review article, we describe current experimental strategies to enhance the regenerative potential of endogenous neural precursor cell sources by enhancing cell proliferation in neurogenic regions and/or redirecting migration, including pharmacological, biomaterial, and tissue engineering strategies. In particular, we discuss a novel replacement strategy based on exogenously biofabricated “living scaffolds” that could enhance and redirect endogenous neuroblast migration from the subventricular zone to specified regions throughout the brain. This approach utilizes the first implantable, biomimetic tissue-engineered rostral migratory stream, thereby leveraging the brain's natural mechanism for sustained neuronal replacement by replicating the structure and function of the native rostral migratory stream. Across all these strategies, we discuss several challenges that need to be overcome to successfully harness endogenous neural precursor cells to promote nervous system repair and functional restoration. With further development, the diverse and innovative tissue engineering and biomaterial strategies explored in this review have the potential to facilitate functional neuronal replacement to mitigate neurological and psychiatric symptoms caused by injury, developmental disorders, or neurodegenerative disease.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times