Author(s): Stang F, Fansa H, Wolf G, Keilhoff G
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Abstract Bridging of nerve gaps is still a major problem in peripheral nerve surgery. Alternatively to autologous nerve grafts tissue engineering of peripheral nerves focuses on biocompatible conduits to reconstruct nerves. Such non-neural conduits fail to support regeneration over larger gaps due to lacking viable Schwann cells that promote regeneration by producing growth factors and cell guiding molecules. This problem may be overcome by implantation of cultivated Schwann cells into suitable scaffolds. In the present experiments we tested a collagen type I/III tube as a potential nerve guiding matrix. Revascularization, tolerance and Schwann cell settlement were evaluated by light, fluorescence and scanning electron microscopy after different implantation times. The conduits were completely revascularized between day 5 and 7 post-operatively and well integrated into the host tissue. Implanted Schwann cells adhered, survived and proliferated on the inner surface of the conduits. Nevertheless, bridging a 2 cm gap of the sciatic nerve of adult Wistar rats with these collagen/Schwann cell conduits led to a disappointing regeneration compared to controls with autologous grafts. From these results, we conclude that a sufficient biocompatibility of bioartificial nerve conduits is a necessary prerequisite, however, it remains only one of several parameters important for peripheral nerve regeneration.
This article was published in Biomed Mater Eng
and referenced in International Journal of Neurorehabilitation