Author(s): Sterne GD, Brown RA, Green CJ, Terenghi G
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Abstract A better understanding of the mechanisms of nerve regeneration could improve the outcome of surgical nerve repair. We have previously shown that axonal regeneration is increased by nerve growth factor. Neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) belongs to the same family as nerve growth factor but acts on a distinct neuron subpopulation. As little is known about its role following nerve injury, we have investigated the effect of NT-3 delivered via fibronectin mats, previously shown to support nerve regeneration comparable to nerve grafts. NT-3 stimulation (0.1-1000 ng/ml) of neurite extension from embryonic chick dorsal root ganglia in vitro has shown that fibronectin can bind and release bioactive NT-3. Fibronectin mats impregnated with NT-3 (500 ng/ml) were grafted into 1 cm sciatic nerve defects in adult Lewis rats. Plain mats were used as controls. Computerized quantification of penetration distance, volume of axonal regeneration and myelinated fibre counts was undertaken using immunostaining for axonal markers (growth-associated protein 43, calcitonin gene-related peptide, substance P, vasoactive intestinal peptide and neuropeptide tyrosine), or S100 or thionine blue staining up to 8 months postoperatively. The maximal effect of NT-3 occurred at day 15, when for GAP43-immunostained axons both penetration distance (NT-3, 6.10 +/- 0.42 mm; control, 4.11 +/- 0.41 mm; P < 0.01) and staining area (NT-3, 0.137 +/- 0.012 mm2; control, 0.077 +/- 0.018 mm2; P < 0.05) were significantly increased. Similar results were found for each neuronal subpopulation investigated. By 8 months after repair, the NT-3 group supported a significantly greater number of myelinated axons (NT-3, 7003 +/- 402; control, 4932 +/- 725; P < 0.05) of similar diameter and g-ratio to controls. These results demonstrate the contribution of NT-3 to the increase of nerve regeneration promoted by growth factors.
This article was published in Eur J Neurosci
and referenced in International Journal of Sensor Networks and Data Communications