Author(s): da Silva CF, Chiu TH, Sidman RL, Madison R, Dikkes P
An in vivo preparation is presented to study the rate and time course of motor and sensory axonal regeneration. The cut ends of a transected sciatic nerve were inserted into each end of a 5-6 mm non-toxic and bioresorbable nerve guide tube to create a 4 mm nerve gap in adult mice. Subsequently, cell bodies in the ventral spinal cord and L3-L5 dorsal root ganglia that had regenerated axons across the gap were retrogradely labeled with horseradish peroxidase (HRP). The HRP was applied 3 mm distal to the nerve guide and was accessible only to axons that had regenerated through the nerve guide. Labeled cells were counted in 40 micron serial sections at 2, 4 and 6 weeks after initial nerve transection. The results indicate a significant increase in the number of labeled motor and sensory cell bodies over time. By 6 weeks after transection, approximately two thirds as many ventral horn motor cells and one third as many dorsal root ganglion sensory cells were labeled as in control non-transected animals. These data serve as a baseline to compare differential effects of additives to the nerve guide lumen in terms of sensory and motor neuron response.