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Regeneration and functional recovery in the upper extremity of rats after various types of nerve injuries

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The aim was to establish an accurate, reproducible, and simple method to evaluate functional recovery after different types of nerve injuries to the brachial plexus of rats. To that end, pawprints, measured as distance between the first and fourth and second and third digits, were used for evaluation of injuries including crush injury, transection/repair, or graft repair of the median, ulnar, and radial nerves. Immunocytochemistry of the C-terminal flanking peptide of neuropeptide Y (CPON) and neurofilaments was used to investigate the cell body response and axonal outgrowth, respectively. Functional recovery was dependent on the severity as well as on the level of the lesion. Neither a single injury to the median nerve nor an injury to the ulnar nerve affected the pawprint, while an injury to both these nerves or a single injury to the radial nerve caused impairment of pawprints. There was a rapid recovery after crush injury to these nerves compared to previous reports of a similar injury to the sciatic nerve. The pattern of axonal outgrowth was related to the severity of the lesion. A conditioning lesion, i.e., an initial lesion of the same nerve preceding a test injury by a few days, of both motor/sensory fibers led to a quicker functional recovery. Surprisingly, conditioning of only sensory fibers had nearly the same effect. The cell body response was dependent on the level of the nerve lesion. The upper extremity of rats might be useful to evaluate the effects of new repair methods after nerve injuries using functional evaluation with pawprints as a simple and accurate method.
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Keywords: CPON; conditioning lesion; functional recovery; nerve injury; nerve repair

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Cell and Organism Biology, University of Lund, Lund 2: and Department of Hand Surgery, Malmö University Hospital, Malmö, 3: Sweden

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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