Object: Peripheral nerve repair surgery is still replete with challenges. Despite technical improvements in microsurgery, classic methods of nerve repair have failed to provide satisfactory results. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of amniotic fluid from humans on peripheral nerve scarring and regeneration in rats.
Methods: Forty adult Sprague-Dawley rats were used in this study. After the right sciatic nerve in each rat was transected and repaired using an epineural suture procedure, the nerves were divided into two groups according to the solution applied around the repair site: experimental group, 0.3 ml human amniotic fluid (HAF); and control group, 0.3 ml saline. Macroscopic and histological evaluations of peripheral nerve scarring were performed 4 weeks postsurgery. Nerves treated with HAF demonstrated a significant reduction in the amount of scar tissue surrounding the repair site (p < 0.05). No evidence of a reaction against HAF was noted. Functional nerve regeneration was measured once every 2 weeks by using a sciatic function index until 12 weeks postsurgery. Functional recovery in nerves treated with amniotic fluid occurred significantly faster than that in nerves treated with saline (p < 0.05). Peripheral nerve regeneration was evaluated histomorphologically at 12 weeks postsurgery. Nerves treated with amniotic fluid showed significant improvement with respect to the indices of fiber maturation (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Preliminary data show that HAF enhances peripheral nerve regeneration. The preventive effect of HAF on epineural scarring and the rich content of neurotrophic and neurite-promoting factors possibly contribute to this result.