3D printing strategies for peripheral nerve regeneration

Eugen B. Petcu, Rajiv Midha, Erin McColl, Aurel Popa-Wagner, Traian V. Chirila, Paul D. Dalton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


After many decades of biomaterials research for peripheral nerve regeneration, a clinical product (the nerve guide), is emerging as a proven alternative for relatively short injury gaps. This review identifies aspects where 3D printing can assist in improving long-distance nerve guide regeneration strategies. These include (1) 3D printing of the customizable nerve guides, (2) fabrication of scaffolds that fill nerve guides, (3) 3D bioprinting of cells within a matrix/bioink into the nerve guide lumen and the (4) establishment of growth factor gradients along the length a nerve guide. The improving resolution of 3D printing technologies will be an important factor for peripheral nerve regeneration, as fascicular-like guiding structures provide one path to improved nerve guidance. The capability of 3D printing to manufacture complex structures from patient data based on existing medical imaging technologies is an exciting aspect that could eventually be applied to treating peripheral nerve injury. Ultimately, the goal of 3D printing in peripheral nerve regeneration is the automated fabrication, potentially customized for the patient, of structures within the nerve guide that significantly outperform the nerve autograft over large gap injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number032001
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2018


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