Regeneration of long-distance peripheral nerve defects after delayed reconstruction in healthy and diabetic rats is supported by immunomodulatory chitosan nerve guides

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Background: Delayed reconstruction of transection or laceration injuries of peripheral nerves is inflicted by a reduced regeneration capacity. Diabetic conditions, more frequently encountered in clinical practice, are known to further impair regeneration in peripheral nerves. Chitosan nerve guides (CNGs) have recently been introduced as a new generation of medical devices for immediate peripheral nerve reconstruction. Here, CNGs were used for 45 days delayed reconstruction of critical length 15 mm rat sciatic nerve defects in either healthy Wistar rats or diabetic Goto-Kakizaki rats; the latter resembling type 2 diabetes. In short and long-term investigations, we comprehensively analyzed the performance of one-chambered hollow CNGs (hCNGs) and two-chambered CNGs (CFeCNGs) in which a chitosan film has been longitudinally introduced. Additionally, we investigated in vitro the immunomodulatory effect provided by the chitosan film. Results: Both types of nerve guides, i.e. hCNGs and CFeCNGs, enabled moderate morphological and functional nerve regeneration after reconstruction that was delayed for 45 days. These positive findings were detectable in generally healthy as well as in diabetic Goto-Kakizaki rats (for the latter only in short-term studies). The regenerative outcome did not reach the degree as recently demonstrated after immediate reconstruction using hCNGs and CFeCNGs. CFeCNG-treatment, however, enabled tissue regrowth in all animals (hCNGs: only in 80% of animals). CFeCNGs did further support with an increased vascularization of the regenerated tissue and an enhanced regrowth of motor axons. One mechanism by which the CFeCNGs potentially support successful regeneration is an immunomodulatory effect induced by the chitosan film itself. Our in vitro results suggest that the pro-regenerative effect of chitosan is related to the differentiation of chitosan-adherent monocytes into pro-healing M2 macrophages. Conclusions: No considerable differences appear for the delayed nerve regeneration process related to healthy and diabetic conditions. Currently available chitosan nerve grafts do not support delayed nerve regeneration to the same extent as they do after immediate nerve reconstruction. The immunomodulatory characteristics of the biomaterial may, however, be crucial for their regeneration supportive effects.


  • Lena Stenberg
  • Maria Stößel
  • Giulia Ronchi
  • Stefano Geuna
  • Yaobin Yin
  • Susanne Mommert
  • Lisa Mårtensson
  • Jennifer Metzen
  • Claudia Grothe
  • Lars B. Dahlin
  • Kirsten Haastert-Talini
Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Hannover Medical School
  • Center for Systems Neuroscience
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • University of Turin

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Neurovetenskaper


TidskriftBMC Neuroscience
StatusPublished - 2017 jul 18
Peer review utfördJa