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Abstract

Gap injuries of peripheral nerves, resulting from trauma or neurosurgical procedures, presage badly, for the presence of the distal stump of the nerve seems to be indispensable for regeneration. The standard grafting method requires a lesion of a healthy nerve, and therefore various substitutional materials are under consideration. The aim of the present work was to examine the recovery of rat sciatic nerves after supplying 10-mm-long gaps with an autologous connective-tissue chambers filled with fibrin only or fibrin and various neuroactive substances (brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), extracts from predegenerated or non-predegenerated nerves). The nerves were allowed to regenerate for 16 weeks. Recovery was measured functionally using the sciatic functional index, and by comparing the weight ratios of calf muscles. The histologic features of regeneration were assessed by counting the number of acetylcholinesterase-positive nerve fibers present inside implanted chambers. We found that chambers filled with fibrin and predegenerated peripheral nerve extracts or BDNF supported functional nerve regeneration much more strongly than chambers filled with fibrin only or fibrin and non-predegenerated peripheral nerve extracts. We conclude that autologous connective-tissue chambers filled with fibrin and predegenerated peripheral nerve extracts or BDNF seem to be a promising tool in peripheral nerve gap injury treatment, with likely clinical implications. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc. Microsurgery 25:486–494, 2005.