Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department


Committee Chair/Advisor

Vertegel, Alexey A

Committee Member

Alexis , Frank

Committee Member

Luzinov , Igor

Committee Member

Webb , Ken


Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is a debilitating condition which causes neurological damage and can result in paralysis. SCI results in immediate mechanical damage to the spinal cord, but secondary injuries due to inflammation, oxidative damage, and activated biochemical pathways leading to apoptosis exacerbate the injury. The only currently available treatment, methylprednisolone, is controversial because there is no convincing data to support its therapeutic efficacy for SCI treatment. In the absence of an effective SCI treatment option, 17β-estradiol has gained significant attention for its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic abilities, all events associated with secondary. Sadly, 17β-estradiol is associated with systemic adverse effects preclude the use of free estrogen even for local administration due to short drug half-life in the body. Biodegradable nanoparticles can be used to increase half-life after local administration and to bestow sustained release. Sustained release using PEGylated biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles constructed from poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) will endow a consistent, low, but effective dose to be delivered locally. This will limit systemic effects due to local administration and low dose, sustained release. PLGA was chosen because it has been used extensively for sustained release, and has a record of safety in humans. Here, we show the in vitro efficacy of PEGylated nanoparticles loaded with 17β-estradiol for treatment of secondary SCI. We achieved a high loading efficiency and controlled release from the particles over a several day therapeutic window. The particles also show neuroprotection in two in vitro cell culture models. Both the dose and pretreatment time with nanoparticles was evaluated in an effort to translate the treatment into an animal model for further study.



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