A 3D-engineered porous conduit for peripheral nerve repair

Sci Rep. 2017 Apr 12;7:46038. doi: 10.1038/srep46038.


End-to-end neurorrhaphy is the most commonly used method for treating peripheral nerve injury. However, only 50% of patients can regain useful function after treating with neurorrhaphy. Here, we constructed a 3D-engineered porous conduit to promote the function recovery of the transected peripheral nerve after neurorrhaphy. The conduit that consisted of a gelatin cryogel was prepared by molding with 3D-printed moulds. Due to its porous structure and excellent mechanical properties, this conduit could be collapsed by the mechanical force and resumed its original shape after absorption of normal saline. This shape-memory property allowed a simply surgery process for installing the conduits. Moreover, the biodegradable conduit could prevent the infiltration of fibroblasts and reduce the risk of scar tissue, which could provide an advantageous environment for nerve regeneration. The efficiency of the conduits in assisting peripheral nerve regeneration after neurorrhaphy was evaluated in a rat sciatic nerve transected model. Results indicated that conduits significantly benefitted the recovery of the transected peripheral nerve after end-to-end neurorrhaphy on the static sciatic index (SSI), electrophysiological results and the re-innervation of the gastrocnemius muscle. This work demonstrates a biodegradable nerve conduit that has potentially clinical application in promoting the neurorrhaphy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cryogels
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • GAP-43 Protein / metabolism
  • Gelatin
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration*
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Peripheral Nerves / pathology
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology*
  • Porosity
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Recovery of Function
  • Sciatic Nerve / injuries
  • Sciatic Nerve / pathology
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiopathology
  • Sus scrofa
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Cryogels
  • GAP-43 Protein
  • Gelatin