One approach to repair of transected nerves is to attempt extrinsic guidance of axons across the gaps. We inserted the proximal and distal stumps of severed mouse sciatic nerves into opposite ends of biodegradable polyester tubes. The nerves and ensheathing tubes were examined after postoperative survival times of as long as 2 years. Myelinated fiber number in each successfully regenerated nerve was measured and correlated with the tube's residual lumen size. In selected regenerated nerves axonal sizes and myelin sheath widths were sampled and compared with control values. Swelling and deformation of tube walls occurred in nearly all tubes. Successful regeneration was obtained through more than half of the implants, and was more probable in tubes with larger initial lumens. Myelinated fiber number in regenerated nerves ranged from 231 to 3561 (normally 3900 to 4200); larger values again were found in tubes with larger initial lumens. Mean axonal areas in regenerated nerves were roughly half of normal, though myelin sheaths became appropriately thick. We concluded that the more biodegradable a tube, the more likely it was to incur distortion and luminal narrowing. Tube composition per se seemed of importance mainly as it related to maintenance of adequate luminal size over the length of the degrading tubes; luminal adequacy, not tube composition, seemed paramount in determining the extent of nerve regeneration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience