Molecular Mechanism of the “Babysitter” Procedure for Nerve Regeneration and Muscle Preservation in Peripheral Nerve Repair in a Rat Model

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Abstract

Objective

To investigate the molecular mechanism of nerve “babysitter” for nerve regeneration and muscle preservation in peripheral nerve repair.

Methods

Eighty rats were equalized into 4 groups: peroneal nerve transected, group A received no treatment; group B underwent end-to-end repair; group C underwent end-to-side “babysitter” with donor epineurial window; group D underwent end-to-side “babysitter” with 40% donor neurectomy. During second-stage procedure, end-to-end neurorrhaphies were executed in groups A, C, and D. Expression of Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 in spinal cord and IGF-1, TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK), and Fn14 in anterior tibial muscles were evaluated by histopathology at 4-, 8-, 12-, and 24-week timepoints postoperatively.

Results

At 4 weeks, group D expressed comparable IGF-1 with group B, and greater value than groups A and C in spinal cord. By 24 weeks, groups B and D showed higher values than groups A and C. Insulin-like growth factor 1 in muscles were greater in groups C and D than in groups A and B at 4 weeks, and comparable in all groups at 24 weeks. At 4 weeks, immunoreactive scores of TWEAK were 9.00 ± 0, 3.00 ± 0, 6.75 ± 0.75, and 6.75 ± 0.75, respectively. No differences were noticed in all groups by 24 weeks. At 4 weeks, Fn14 were similar in groups A, C, and D, but lower in group B. Group D showed comparable Fn14 with groups B and C, but lower value than group A at 24 weeks.

Conclusions

End-to-side nerve “babysitter” in peripheral nerve could promote fiber regeneration and muscle preservation by regulating expression of IGF-1 and TWEAK-Fn14. End-to-side “babysitter” with partial donor neurectomy could achieve comparable effects with end-to-end repair.

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