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Keywords:

  • cell transplantation;
  • growth factor;
  • nerve regeneration;
  • peripheral nerve injury;
  • reinnervation

ABSTRACT

Introduction: This study evaluated whether Schwann cells (SCs) from different nerve sources transplanted into cold-preserved acellular nerve grafts (CP-ANGs) would improve functional regeneration compared with nerve isografts. Methods: SCs isolated and expanded from motor and sensory branches of rat femoral and sciatic nerves were seeded into 14mm CP-ANGs. Growth factor expression, axonal regeneration, and functional recovery were evaluated in a 14-mm rat sciatic injury model and compared with isografts. Results: At 14 days, motor or sensory-derived SCs increased expression of growth factors in CP-ANGs versus isografts. After 42 days, histomorphometric analysis found CP-ANGs with SCs and isografts had similar numbers of regenerating nerve fibers. At 84 days, muscle force generation was similar for CP-ANGs with SCs and isografts. SC source did not affect nerve fiber counts or muscle force generation. Conclusions: SCs transplanted into CP-ANGs increase functional regeneration to isograft levels; however SC nerve source did not have an effect. Muscle Nerve 49: 267–276, 2014