Bioresorbable collagen nerve guides filled with either magnetically aligned type I collagen gel or control collagen gel were implanted into 4- or 6-mm surgical gaps created in the sciatic nerve of mice and explanted 30 and 60 days postoperation (dpo) for histological and immunohistochemical evaluation. The hypothesis was that contact guidance of regenerating axons and/or invading nonneuronal cells to the longitudinally aligned collagen fibrils would improve nerve regeneration. The criterion for regeneration was observation of regenerating myelinated fibers distal to the nerve guide. Consistent with previous studies showing poor regeneration in 6-mm gaps at 60 dpo with entubulation repair, only one of six mice exhibited regeneration with control collagen gel. In contrast, four of four mice exhibited regeneration with magnetically aligned collagen gel, including the appearance of nerve fascicle formation. The numbers of myelinated fibers were less than the uninjured nerve in all groups, however, which may have been due to rapid resorption of the nerve guides. An attempt to increase the stability of the collagen gel, and thereby the directional information presented by the aligned collagen fibrils, by crosslinking the collagen with ribose before implantation proved detrimental for regeneration.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by an NIH Public Health Service STTR Phase I Grant 95-4 to Integra LifeSciences Corp. and a NATO grant CRG971509 to X.N. We thank Kathy Wabner and Eric Hazen for technical assistance and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, University of Minnesota, for magnet use.