The FKBP-12-binding ligand FK506 has been successfully used to stimulate nerve regeneration and prevent the rejection of peripheral nerve allografts. The immunosuppressant rapamycin, another FKBP-12-binding ligand, stimulates axonal regeneration in vitro, but its influence on nerve regeneration in peripheral nerve isografts or allografts has not been studied. Sixty female inbred BALB/cJ mice were randomized into six tibial nerve transplant groups, including three isograft and three allograft (C57BL/6J) groups. Grafts were left untreated (groups I and II), treated with FK506 (groups III and IV), or treated with rapamycin (groups V and VI). Nerve regeneration was quantified in terms of histomorphometry and functional recovery, and immunosuppression was confirmed with mixed lymphocyte reactivity assays. Animals treated with FK506 and rapamycin were immunosuppressed and demonstrated significantly less immune cell proliferation relative to untreated recipient animals. Although every animal demonstrated some functional recovery during the study, animals receiving an untreated peripheral nerve allograft were slowest to recover. Isografts treated with FK506 but not rapamycin demonstrated significantly increased nerve regeneration. Nerve allografts in animals treated with FK506, and to a lesser extent rapamycin, however, both demonstrated significantly more nerve regeneration and increased nerve fiber widths relative to untreated controls. The authors suggest that rapamycin can facilitate regeneration through peripheral nerve allografts, but it is not a neuroregenerative agent in this in vivo model. Nerve regeneration in FK506-treated peripheral nerve isografts and allografts was superior to that found in rapamycin-treated animals. Rapamycin may have a role in the treatment of peripheral nerve allografts when used in combination with other medications, or in the setting of renal failure that often precludes the use of calcineurin inhibitors such as FK506.
View details for Web of Science ID 000175761500035
View details for PubMedID 12045568