We describe an experimental in vivo system for studying peripheral nerve regeneration, in which the proximal stump of a transected nerve regrows through a transparent silicone chamber toward the distal stump. Physical separation permits examination of the effects of the humoral and/or cellular influences from the distal stump on regenerating fibers before they invade the distal segment itself. A small segment of the rat sciatic nerve was resected, leaving a 6 mm gap which was then encased by a cylindrical silicone chamber. Within the first weeks, a nerve trunk regenerated along the central axis of the chamber bridged the gap between the proximal and distal stumps. When the distal nerve stump was omitted from the distal opening of the chamber, only a thin structure with a few small-caliber fibers extended across the gap. In each instance regenerating nerve appeared as a cord-like structure completely surrounded by clear fluid, a feature which permits easy collection of the extracellular fluid for analysis of its chemical properties and biological activity. This feature also allows in vivo manipulation of the humoral environment in which nerve regeneration occurs.
View details for Web of Science ID A1982NX92500004
View details for PubMedID 7086464