Forelimb muscle activity following nerve graft repair of ventral roots in the rat cervical spinal cord

Tien-Yow Chuang, Ming-Chao Huang, Kuo-Chih Chen, Yue-Cune Chang, Yu-Shu Yen, Liang-Shong Lee, Henrich Cheng
Life Sciences 2002 June 21, 71 (5): 487-96
Current research on the cellular mechanisms of nerve regeneration suggests the application of nerve growth factors at the repair sites to be beneficial. To test the effectiveness of this approach, we performed transections of the C6 and C7 ventral rootlets from their original sites in the spinal cord of 18 rats. We investigated the electrophysiological changes in three groups of rats operated on by different repair strategies. Six rats comprised the control group (G1). In the other 12 rats, 24 rootlets were implanted into the spinal cord by means of an intercostal nerve graft through the pia mater immediately after transection. Six rats (G2) had fibrin glue applied at the incision. The last 6 rats (G3) had grafts with acidic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF) added to the fibrin glue. The rats' functional recovery was evaluated electrophysiologically at 6 weeks and 6 months after the operation. Needle electromyography showed profound fibrillation potentials (Daube's scoring system) in the deltoid, biceps, and triceps of the operated forelimbs in all groups 6 weeks after the operation. After 6 months, there was a significant decrease in the amount of fibrillation potentials in all groups (G1, G2 and G3, p < 0.0001, 0.0001, 0.0009, respectively, generalized estimating equation, repeated measures) and a significantly high probability for motor units present in sampled muscles of G2 and G3 as compared to G1 (log odds ratio in G2 = 51.8316, G3 = 57.4262, generalized estimating equation). We conclude that several cervical roots can regenerate through intercostal nerve grafts applied using fibrin glue. Adding aFGF may increase the efficacy of sprouting.

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