Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) are complex biomolecules that are known to facilitate patterning of
axonal direction and cell migration during the early growth and development phase of the mammalian central nervous system
(CNS). In adults, they continue to control neuronal plasticity as major constituents of the “peri-neuronal nets” (PNNs)
that surround adult CNS neurons. CSPGs are also barrier-forming molecules that are selectively upregulated by invading
reactive astroglia after injury to the CNS, and are responsible for the active repulsion of regenerating neurons post-injury.
Recent evidence however suggests that the diverse sulfated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) side chains attached to CSPGs are
key components that play paradoxical roles in influencing nerve regeneration post-injury to the CNS. Sulfated GAG repeats
attached to the CSPG core protein help mediate cell migration, neuritogenesis, axonal pathfinding, and axonal repulsion
by directly trapping and presenting a whole host of growth factors to cells locally, or by binding to specific membrane
bound proteins on the cell surface to influence cellular function. In this review, we will present the current gamut of
interventional strategies used to bridge CNS deficits, and discuss the potential advantages of using sulfated GAG based
biomaterials to facilitate the repair and regeneration of the injured CNS.
Keywords: Biomaterials, CNS deficits, CSPG, glycosaminoglycans, regenerative medicine.
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