Scar production and neuroma formation at nerve graft coaptation sites may limit axonal regeneration and impair functional outcome. Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is a family of growth factors that is involved in scar formation, wound healing, and nerve regeneration. Fifteen adult Sprague-Dawley rats underwent autogenous nerve grafting. The nerve grafts were analyzed by in situ hybridization to determine the temporal and spatial expression of TGF-beta1 and TGF-beta3 messenger RNA (mRNA). The grafted nerves showed increased expression of TGF-beta1 and TGF-beta3 mRNA in the nerve and the surrounding connective tissue during the first postoperative week. These data suggest that modulation of TGF-beta levels in the first postoperative week may be effective in helping to control scar formation and improve nerve regeneration.
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