Objective: Use of cell culture and conventional in vivo mammalian models to assess nerve regeneration across guidance conduits is resource-intensive. Herein we describe a high-throughput platform utilizing transgenic mice for stain-free axon visualization paired with rapid cryosection techniques for low-cost screening of novel bioengineered nerve guidance conduit performance.
Methods: Interposition repair of sciatic nerve transection in mice expressing yellow fluorescent protein in peripheral neurons (Thy1.2 YFP-16) was performed with various bioengineered neural conduit compositions using a rapid sutureless entubulation technique under isoflurane anesthesia. Axonal ingrowth was assessed at 3 and 6 weeks using epifluorescent microscopy following cryosectioning.
Results: Mean procedure time (incision-to-closure) was less than 2½ minutes. Direct operational costs of a 3-week experiment was calculated at $21.47 per animal. Tissue processing steps were minimized to aldehyde fixation, cryoprotection and sectioning, and rapid fluorescent dye staining for conduit visualization. Fluorescent microscopy readily resolved robust axonal sprouting at 3 weeks, with clear elucidation of ingrowth-permissive, semipermissive, or restrictive nerve guidance conduit environments.
Conclusion: A rapid and cost-efficient in vivo platform for screening of nerve guidance conduit performance has been described.
Level of evidence: NA. Laryngoscope, E392-E392, 2018.
Keywords: Microscopy; animal; axons; confocal; disease models; fluorescence; guided tissue regeneration; materials testing; mice; nerve guidance conduit; nerve regeneration; neuronal outgrowth; peripheral nerve injuries; prosthesis implantation; sciatic nerve; transgenic.
© 2018 The American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society, Inc.