Platelet-Rich Fibrin Conduits as an Alternative to Nerve Autografts for Peripheral Nerve Repair

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Abstract

Background

Peripheral nerves have limited regeneration capacity despite best efforts. Platelet-rich fibrin (PRF) contains growth factors that may stimulate peripheral nerve regeneration. This study verified whether nerve regeneration using autogenous vein conduits filled with PRF is comparable to autologous nerve graft, which is the standard treatment.

Methods

The sciatic nerve of the right paw of inbred rats was dissected, and a 10-mm segment was removed from rats randomized to receive autologous nerve graft (GRAFT) or vein conduit filled with PRF (PRF). A third group (SHAM) underwent surgery without nerve resection. The sciatic functional index (SFI) was measured 0, 30, 60, and 90 days postsurgery. Morphometry and morphology of the distal nerve injury were examined. Motor neurons in the anterior horn of spinal cord stained with FluoroGold and counted.

Results

No significant difference in SFI was observed between the GRAFT and PRF groups at any time point (all p > 0.05); however, SFI was lower in both groups compared with SHAM (p < 0.05). Morphometric and morphologic indexes were not significantly different between the GRAFT and PRF groups (p > 0.05); however, nerve fibers, axons, and myelin sheaths were thinner in both groups compared with SHAM (p = 0.0001). Average motor neurons' count was similar between the GRAFT and PRF groups (p = 0.91); the count was lower in both groups compared with SHAM (p = 0.002 and p = 0.001), respectively.

Conclusion

Autologous nerve GRAFT and PRF-filled autogenous vein conduits were associated with similar outcomes, and worse than those observed in SHAM controls. Vein conduits filled with PRF may be a favorable alternative treatment to nerve grafts.

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