Assessment of In vivo behavior of polymer tube nerve grafts simultaneously with the peripheral nerve regeneration process using scanning electron microscopy technique


  • Contract grant sponsor: Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education; Contract grant number: 2011/01/B/ST8/07795.

Address for reprints: Dariusz Szarek, Department of Neurosurgery, Wroclaw University Hospital, Borowska 213, 55–056 Wroclaw, Poland E-mail:


In this study, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) has been applied for instantaneous assessment of processes occurring at the site of regenerating nerve. The technique proved to be especially useful when an artificial implant should have been observed but have not yet been extensively investigated before for assessment of nerve tissue. For in vivo studies, evaluation of implant's morphology and its neuroregenerative properties is of great importance when new prototype is developed. However, the usually applied histological techniques require separate and differently prepared samples, and therefore, the results are never a 100% comparable. In our research, we found SEM as a technique providing detailed data both on an implant behavior and the nerve regeneration process inside the implant. Observations were carried out during 12-week period on rat sciatic nerve injury model reconstructed with nerve autografts and different tube nerve grafts. Samples were analyzed with haematoxylin-eosin (HE), immunocytochemical staining for neurofillament and S-100 protein, SEM, TEM, and the results were compared. SEM studies enabled to obtain characteristic pictures of the regeneration process similarly to TEM and histological studies. Schwann cell transformation and communication as well as axonal outgrowth were identified, newly created and matured axons could be recognized. Concurrent analysis of biomaterial changes in the implant (degradation, collapsing of the tube wall, migration of alginate gel) was possible. This study provides the groundwork for further use of the described technique in the nerve regeneration studies. SCANNING 35: 232-245, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.