Neuroprotective ferulic acid (FA)-glycol chitosan (GC) nanoparticles for functional restoration of traumatically injured spinal cord

Wei Wu, Seung Young Lee, Xiangbing Wu, Jacqueline Y. Tyler, He Wang, Zheng Ouyang, Kinam Park, Xiao Ming Xu, Ji Xin Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations


An urgent unmet need exists for early-stage treatment of spinal cord injury (SCI). Currently methylprednisolone is the only therapeutic agent used in clinics, for which the efficacy is controversial and the side effect is well-known. We demonstrated functional restoration of injured spinal cord by self-assembled nanoparticles composed of ferulic acid modified glycol chitosan (FA-GC). Chitosan and ferulic acid are strong neuroprotective agents but their systemic delivery is difficult. Our data has shown a prolonged circulation time of the FA-GC nanoparticles allowing for effective delivery of both chitosan and ferulic acid to the injured site. Furthermore, the nanoparticles were found both in the gray matter and white matter. The invitro tests demonstrated that nanoparticles protected primary neurons from glutamate-induced excitotoxicity. Using a spinal cord contusion injury model, significant recovery in locomotor function was observed in rats that were intravenously administered nanoparticles at 2h post injury, as compared to non-improvement by methylprednisolone administration. Histological analysis revealed that FA-GC treatment significantly preserved axons and myelin and also reduced cavity volume, astrogliosis, and inflammatory response at the lesion site. No obvious adverse effects of nanoparticles to other organs were found. The restorative effect of FA-GC presents a promising potential for treating human SCIs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2355-2364
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Anti-excitotoxicity
  • Ferulic acid
  • Functional restoration
  • Glycol chitosan
  • Neuroprotective polymer
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Biophysics

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