Surgical intervention after traumatic peripheral nerve injury relies heavily on sutures. While the suture method often burdens functional nerve regeneration by causing secondary traumatic damage and eliciting prolonged inflammatory immune responses, replacing sutures has rarely been considered because secure anastomosis between severed nerve ends has been the utmost priority in neurorrhaphy. In the present work, a macrophage-polarizing sutureless neurorrhaphy system was proposed by using an in situ visible light-crosslinkable protein-based bioadhesive hydrogel containing a functional neurotransmitter peptide. The efficacy of the proposed bioadhesive hydrogel as a successful sutureless neurorrhaphy system was intensively evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Using a rat sciatic nerve defect model, our findings suggested that this macrophage-polarizing bioadhesive hydrogel offered effective sutureless anastomosis and the capability to induce M2 macrophage polarization for effective tissue remodeling, significantly enhancing functional nerve regeneration compared with conventional sutures. Taken together, these results suggest that our macrophage-polarizing functional bioadhesive hydrogel system can be utilized as a promising alternative to surgical sutures for nerve regenerative medicine applications.
- Functional nerve regeneration
- M macrophage polarization
- Mussel adhesive protein
- Substance P
- Sutureless neurorrhaphy
- Visible light-induced crosslinking bioadhesive hydrogel