Engineering neural stem cell fates with hydrogel design for central nervous system regeneration

Xiaowei Li, Eleni Katsanevakis, Xiaoyan Liu, Ning Zhang, Xuejun Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Injuries and disease to the central nervous system (CNS) are accompanied by severe consequences, as the adult CNS has very limited capacity to replace the lost neural cells. Different sources of neural stem cells for CNS tissue regeneration exist, including embryonic stem cells (ESCs), fetal stem cells, adult stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and so on. However, before stem cell therapy can be a viable option for treatments, many issues still need to be resolved, including low viability, lack of control of stem cell fate, and low cell engraftment after transplantation. Though controlling these parameters is extremely challenging, engineering structures that create permissive niches for the transplanted cells, such as the use of biocompatible hydrogels, is a promising approach. This review will focus on highlighting existing hydrogel systems currently being investigated for CNS tissue regeneration, as well as discuss design criteria for hydrogels and methods for manipulating stem cells within hydrogels systems. Finally, the use of these hydrogel systems as carriers for stem cell transplantation in CNS injury and disease models will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1105-1129
Number of pages25
JournalProgress in Polymer Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Central nervous system
  • Hydrogel
  • Neural stem cell
  • Niche
  • Regeneration


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