Biological Systems Engineering, Department of


First Advisor

Rebecca Wachs

Second Advisor

Rebecca Oberley-Deegan

Third Advisor

Rick Bevins

Date of this Version


Document Type



Ney, Kayla E. (2023). Engineering of Microparticle Encapsulated Antioxidant to Mitigate Oxidative Stress In Vitro and In Vivo. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master in Science, Major: Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Rebecca Wachs. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2023

Copyright © 2023 Kayla E. Ney


Chronic low back pain (cLBP) is one of the leading causes of years lived with disability in the United States. Current treatments for cLBP have variable results across the patient population, and many patients struggle to find consistent relief. Most current treatments focus on the symptom of pain, not the root cause. In painful degenerated discs, oxidative stress and inflammation function in a vicious cycle and perpetuate degeneration, damage, and pain. Therefore, oxidative stress and inflammation are important targets in addressing the source of pain. This work characterizes an antioxidant, BuOE, encapsulated in a chondroitin sulfate microparticle as a novel treatment for cLBP. This work encompasses the evaluation of the drug’s abilities in a cellular model of oxidative stress, the fabrication and characterization of BuOE encapsulated in a carrier vehicle, and effect of the encapsulated treatment on a rodent model of cLBP. BuOE demonstrated the ability to reduce ROS in a stressed cellular environment. The encapsulated BuOE functioned as an antioxidant for 80 days and exhibited controlled release, was not cytotoxic, and was able to be engulfed by native disc cells. Interestingly, the treatment demonstrated mixed results in behavioral assays, exhibiting possible pain-like behavior trends in non-evoked assays, but not in evoked assays. These results demonstrate the ability of encapsulated BuOE to reduce ROS and the potential of the therapeutic to improve function in cLBP patients. Further work will be conducted to evaluate the mechanism of the treatment and the ability of encapsulated BuOE to reduce pain.

Advisor: Rebecca A. Wachs