Numerous studies have focused on the development of novel and innovative approaches for the treatment of peripheral nerve injury using artificial nerve guide conduits. In this study, we attempted to bridge 3.5-cm defects of the sciatic nerve with a longitudinally oriented collagen conduit (LOCC) loaded with human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUC-MSCs). The LOCC contains a bundle of longitudinally aligned collagenous fibres enclosed in a hollow collagen tube. Our previous studies showed that an LOCC combined with neurotrophic factors enhances peripheral nerve regeneration. However, it remained unknown whether an LOCC seeded with hUC-MSCs could also promote regeneration. In this study, using various histological and electrophysiological analyses, we found that an LOCC provides mechanical support to newly growing nerves and functions as a structural scaffold for cells, thereby stimulating sciatic nerve regeneration. The LOCC and hUC-MSCs synergistically promoted regeneration and improved the functional recovery in a dog model of sciatic nerve injury. Therefore, the combined use of an LOCC and hUC-MSCs might have therapeutic potential for the treatment of peripheral nerve injury.
Keywords: dog; human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUC-MSCs); longitudinally oriented collagen conduit (LOCC); nerve regeneration; sciatic nerve.
Copyright © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.