Dexamethasone and vitamin B(12) synergistically promote peripheral nerve regeneration in rats by upregulating the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor

Arch Med Sci. 2012 Nov 9;8(5):924-30. doi: 10.5114/aoms.2012.31623. Epub 2012 Nov 7.


Introduction: Dexamethasone and vitamin B(12) are currently used in the clinic to treat peripheral nerve damage but their mechanisms of action remain incompletely understood. In this study we hypothesized that dexamethasone and vitamin B(12) promote the production of endogenous neurotrophic factors, thereby enhancing peripheral nerve repair.

Material and methods: Ninety-six adult male Wistar rats were employed to establish a sciatic nerve injury model. They were then randomly divided into 4 groups to be subjected to different treatment: saline (group A), dexamethasone (group B), vitamin B(12) (group C), and dexamethasone combined with vitamin B(12) (group D). The walking behavior of rats was evaluated by footprint analysis, and the nerve regeneration was assessed by electrophysiological analysis and ultrastructural examination. The expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor, NT-3 and IL-6 in the injured sciatic nerves was detected by immunohistochemical and RT-PCR analysis.

Results: Dexamethasone and vitamin B(12) promoted the regeneration of myelinated nerve fibers and the proliferation of Schwann cells. Furthermore, dexamethasone and vitamin B(12) promoted the recovery of sciatic functional index and sensory nerve conduction velocity, and upregulated BDNF expression in the injured sciatic nerves.

Conclusions: Dexamethasone and vitamin B(12) promote peripheral nerve repair in a rat model of sciatic nerve injury through the upregulation of BDNF expression. These findings provide new insight into the neurotrophic effects of dexamethasone and vitamin B(12) and support the application of these agents in clinical treatment of peripheral nerve injury.

Keywords: brain-derived neurotrophic factor; dexamethasone; peripheral nerve repair; sciatic nerve; vitamin B12.