Bioactive Glasses and Glass/Polymer Composites for Neuroregeneration: Should We Be Hopeful?
Bioactive glasses (BGs) have been identified as highly versatile materials in tissue engineering applications; apart from being used for bone repair for many years, they have recently shown promise for the regeneration of peripheral nerves as well. They can be formulated in different shapes and forms (micro-/nanoparticles, micro-/nanofibers, and tubes), thus potentially meeting the diverse requirements for neuroregeneration. Mechanical and biological improvements in three-dimensional (3D) polymeric scaffolds could be easily provided by adding BGs to their composition. Various types of silicate, borate, and phosphate BGs have been examined for use in neuroregeneration. In general, BGs show good compatibility with the nervous system compartments both in vitro and in vivo. Functionalization and surface modification plus doping with therapeutic ions make BGs even more effective in peripheral nerve regeneration. Moreover, the combination of BGs with conductive polymers is suggested to improve neural cell functions at injured sites. Taking advantage of BGs combined with novel technologies in tissue engineering, like 3D printing, can open new horizons in reconstructive approaches for the nervous system. Although there are great potential opportunities in BG-based therapies for peripheral nerve regeneration, more research should still be performed to carefully assess the pros and cons of BGs in neuroregeneration strategies.