In this work we evaluated the efficacy of biodegradable composite co-polymer guiding neurotube, based on tissue-engineering technology, for the treatment of complete peripheral nerve injury where the nerve defect is significant. The right sciatic nerve of 12 three-month-old rats was completely transected and peripheral nerve segment was removed. A 2.2-cm biodegradable co-polymer neurotube containing viscous gel (NVR-N-Gel) with survival factors, neuroprotective agents and Schwann cells was placed between the proximal and the distal parts of the transected nerve for reconnection a 2-cm nerve defect. The proximal and distal parts of the nerve were fixed into the neurotube using 10-0 sutures. Ultrasound observation showed growth of the axons into the composite neurotube 2 months after the surgery. Electrophysiological study indicated compound muscle action potentials in nine out of 12 rats, 2-4 months after peripheral nerve reconstructive surgery. The postoperative follow-up (up to 4 months) on the operated rats that underwent peripheral nerve reconstruction using composite co-polymer neurotube, showed beginning of re-establishment of active foot movements. The tube was dissolved and nerve showed complete reconnection. Histological observation of the nerve showed growth of myelinated axons into the site where a 2-cm nerve defect replaced by composite co-polymer neurotube and into the distal part of the nerve. In conclusion: (1) an innovative composite neurotube for reconstruction of significant loss of peripheral nerve segment is described; (2) a viscous gel, containing survival factors, neuroprotective agents and Schwann cells served as a regenerative environment for repair. Further investigations of this reconstructive procedure are being conducted.
- Composite co-polymer neurotube
- Peripheral nerve injury
- Schwann cells embedded in gel