Date of Award

Fall 2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - (M.S.)

Department

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Bryan J. Pfister

Second Advisor

Patricia Soteropoulos

Third Advisor

Cheul H. Cho

Abstract

Traditional nerve regeneration strategies focus on growth cone-mediated growth, a form of nerve growth that occurs primarily during embryogenesis. Early axons continue to grow from the end distal to the soma, seeking targets on which to synapse. It is believed that once the axons synapse, stretch-growth takes over and is responsible for the great lengths achieved by nerves of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Recent work has demonstrated stretch-growth in vitro resulting in dramatically increased growth rates compared to the growth cone. Here, the aim was to decipher the underlying biology associated with axon stretch-growth using two approaches. First, a device was created for live imaging of stretch-growth as it occurs on the stage of a microscope. Morphology changes and cytoskeletal transport were captured live at up to 600x magnification over six days of culturing. Second, the RNA species produced during stretch-growth were isolated in order to reveal the regulatory genes involved in this process. Successive RNA quantifications have revealed up to a three-fold increase in RNA population of stretch- grown tissue when compared to controls.

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