We determined blood vessel and perineurial fascicle densities as well as axonal numbers in regenerated rat sciatic nerves 8 weeks after the nerves had been transected, the proximal stumps placed into the proximal ends of silicone tubes, and isolated fragments of nerve placed into the distal ends of the same tubes. The data are compared with data from the normal nerve and from regeneration in a similar paradigm in which the distal stumps were used as the inserts into the distal end of the silicone tubes. A major difference between the two regeneration paradigms was that axons were discouraged from reaching the periphery when the distal insert was an isolated fragment and encouraged to reach the periphery when the distal insert was the distal stump. We found that fascicle and blood vessel densities were greater than normal but less than with the distal stump as the distal insert. Thus we concluded that the nature of the distal insert had a bearing on how many vessels and perineurial fascicles were formed during regeneration in these conditions. Myelinated axon numbers did not differ in the two conditions whereas there were more unmyelinated axons with the isolated distal stump as the distal insert. Thus at this regeneration time the numbers of myelinated axons were not as dependent on the nature of the distal insert as were the numbers of unmyelinated axons. Finally the length of the gap had a great influence on the numbers of axons that regenerated. These data quantitate to some extent the regenerative responses under these experimental conditions and confirm that isolated pieces of nerve may be effective in promoting axon growth into silicone tubes, a finding that may ultimately have clinical significance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience