Alginate-encapsulated brain-derived neurotrophic factor–overexpressing mesenchymal stem cells are a promising drug delivery system for protection of auditory neurons
The cochlear implant outcome is possibly improved by brain-derived neurotrophic factor treatment protecting spiral ganglion neurons. Implantation of genetically modified mesenchymal stem cells may enable the required long-term brain-derived neurotrophic factor administration. Encapsulation of mesenchymal stem cells in ultra-high viscous alginate may protect the mesenchymal stem cells from the recipient’s immune system and prevent their uncontrolled migration. Alginate stability and survival of mesenchymal stem cells in alginate were evaluated. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor production was measured and its protective effect was analyzed in dissociated rat spiral ganglion neuron co-culture. Since the cochlear implant is an active electrode, alginate–mesenchymal stem cell samples were electrically stimulated and alginate stability and mesenchymal stem cell survival were investigated. Stability of ultra-high viscous-alginate and alginate–mesenchymal stem cells was proven. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor production was detectable and spiral ganglion neuron survival, bipolar morphology, and neurite outgrowth were increased. Moderate electrical stimulation did not affect the mesenchymal stem cell survival and their viability was good within the investigated time frame. Local drug delivery by ultra-high viscous-alginate-encapsulated brain-derived neurotrophic factor–overexpressing mesenchymal stem cells is a promising strategy to improve the cochlear implant outcome.