BUSAN, South Korea, Jan. 19, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Tissue engineering, which involves the use of grafts or scaffolds to aid cell regeneration, is emerging as a key medical practice for treating volumetric muscle loss (VML), a condition where a significant amount of muscle tissue is lost beyond the body’s natural regenerative capacity. To improve surgical outcomes, traditional muscle grafts are giving way to artificial scaffold materials, with MXene nanoparticles (NPs) standing out as a promising option.
MXene NPs are 2D materials primarily composed of transition-metal carbides and nitride. They are highly electrically conductive, can accommodate a wide range of functional groups, and have stacked structures that promote cell interactions and muscle growth. While there have been practical demonstrations in the laboratory showcasing their ability to promote the reconstruction of skeletal muscles, the specific mechanism by which they do so remains unclear.
To address this gap, Associate Professor Yun Hak Kim from the Department of Anatomy and Department of Biomedical Informatics alongside Professors Suck Won Hong, and Dong-Wook Han from the Department of Cogno-Mechatronics Engineering at Pusan National University, developed nanofibrous matrices containing MXene NPs as scaffolds. They used DNA sequencing to reveal the genes and biological pathways activated by MXene NPs to aid in muscle regeneration. These findings, published on 4 January, 2024, in Volume 16 of Nano-Micro Letters, mark a significantly advancement in the use of MXene scaffolds for treating muscle damage.
“This discovery posits a prospective avenue for the utilization of these materials to augment the efficacy of muscle tissue regeneration post-injury or damage,” explains Professor Kim.
In the initial phase, the team created a nanofibrous PCM matrix containing poly(lactide-co-ε-caprolactone) (P), reinforced with collagen (C), and Ti3C2Tx MXene nanoparticles (M). To determine the specific effect of MXene NPs on muscle growth, they prepared three controls: pristine PLCL (P), PLCL with Collagen (PC), and PLCL with MXene (PM). On testing all the scaffolds on mouse models with induced volumetric muscle loss, the researchers observed a significant increase in the overall number of muscle cells in PCM-treated mice than in other groups.
Further investigations revealed that MXenes promote calcium ion (Ca2+) deposition around cells. This heightened levels of intracellular Ca2+ triggers the activation of genes that produce inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and serum/glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1 (SGK1) proteins. SGK1 influences the mTOR-AKT pathway, promoting cell proliferation, survival, and myogenesis–the conversion of myoblasts to muscle fibers. Simultaneously, iNOS increases the production of nitric oxide (NO), contributing to myoblast proliferation and muscle fiber fusion. The combined effects lead to the development of mature muscle tissue.
This discovery contributes to our understanding of MXene’s potential to regrow muscle and holds promise for refining scaffold designs to enhance this process further. “Within 5 to 10 years, this research may yield groundbreaking treatments for muscle injuries,” Prof. Kim optimistically states.
Title of original paper: Highly aligned ternary nanofiber matrices loaded with MXene expedite regeneration of volumetric muscle loss
Journal: Nano-Micro Letters
About the institute
Pusan National University, located in Busan, South Korea, was founded in 1946, and is now the no. 1 national university of South Korea in research and educational competency. The multi-campus university also has other smaller campuses in Yangsan, Miryang, and Ami. The university prides itself on the principles of truth, freedom, and service, and has approximately 30,000 students, 1200 professors, and 750 faculty members. The university is composed of 14 colleges (schools) and one independent division, with 103 departments in all.
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SOURCE Pusan National University