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Axonal Regeneration Across Long Gaps in Silicone Chambers Filled With Schwann Cells Overexpressing High Molecular Weight FGF-2

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Basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) has been shown to enhance the survival and neurite extension of various types of neurons including spinal ganglion neurons. In addition, endogenous FGF-2 and FGF receptors are upregulated following peripheral nerve lesion in ganglia and at the lesion site. FGF-2 protein is expressed in different isoforms (18 kDa, 21 kDa, 23 kDa) and differentially regulated after nerve injury. In the rat we analyzed the regenerative capacity of the high molecular weight (HMW) FGF-2 isoforms (21/23 kDa) to support the regeneration of the axotomized adult sciatic nerve across long gaps. The nerve stumps were inserted into the opposite ends of a silicone chamber resulting in an interstump gap of 15 mm. Silicone tubes were filled with Matrigel or a mixture of Schwann cells (SC) and Matrigel. SC were prepared from newborn rats and transfected to overexpress HMW FGF-2. Four weeks after the operation procedure, channels were analyzed with regard to tissue cables bridging both nerve stumps and myelinated axons distal to the original proximal nerve stump. Peripheral nerves interposed with HMW Schwann cells displayed significantly enhanced nerve regeneration, with the greatest number of tissue cables containing myelinated axons and the highest number of myelinated axons. These results suggest that a cellular substrate together with a source of a trophic factor could be a promising tool to promote nerve regeneration and, therefore, become useful also for a clinical approach to repair long gaps.

Keywords: Fibroblast growth factor-2; Genetically modified Schwann cells; Isoforms; Peripheral nerve regeneration; Rat; Sciatic nerve; Tubulization

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: *Department of Neuroanatomy, Center of Anatomy, OE 4140, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Strasse 1, D-30623 Hannover, Germany 2: †Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital, Breisacher Strasse 64, 79106 Freiburg, Germany

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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