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Neurotrophic Effects of Decellularized Muscles

Skeletal muscle decellularization allows the generation of natural scaffolds that retain the extracellular matrix mechanical integrity, biological activity, and three‐dimensional (3D) architecture of the native tissue. Studies have reported evidence for a pro‐innervation ability of decellularized muscles when implanted in vivo, and now, researchers led by Anna Urciuolo (University College London, UK/Fondazione Città della Speranza, Padova, Italy) have established that decellularized muscles preserve extracellular matrix proteins of both muscular and peripheral nervous systems. To investigate whether decellularized scaffolds could attract neural axons, Raffa et al. cultured organotypic sections of the spinal cord in the presence or absence of decellularized muscles, finding that neural axons extended from the spinal cord became attracted to the decellularized muscles and penetrated inside the scaffolds upon 3D coculture. These results, reported in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, demonstrate that decellularized scaffolds possess intrinsic neurotrophic properties, supporting their application for extensive functional muscle regeneration.