Peripheral nerve injury presents significant therapeutic challenges for recovery of motor and sensory function in patients. Different clinical approaches exist but to date there has been no consensus on the most effective method of treatment. Here, we investigate a novel approach to peripheral nerve repair using olfactory derived stem (ONS) cells delivered in a biphasic collagen and laminin functionalized hyaluronic acid based nerve guidance conduit (NGC). Nerve regeneration was studied across a 10-mm sciatic nerve gap in Sprague Dawley rats. The effect of ONS cell loading of NGCs with or without nerve growth factor (NGF) supplementation on nerve repair was compared to a cell-free NGC across a variety of clinical, functional, electrophysiological, and morphologic parameters. Animals implanted with ONS cell loaded NGCs demonstrated improved clinical and electrophysiological outcomes compared to cell free NGC controls. The nerves regenerated across ONS cell loaded NGCs contained significantly more axons than cell-free NGCs. A return of the nocioceptive withdrawal reflex in ONS cell treated animals indicated an advanced repair stage at a relatively early time point of 8 weeks post implantation. The addition of NGF further improved the outcomes of the repair indicating the potential beneficial effect of a combined stem cell/growth factor treatment strategy delivered on NGCs. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2017;6:1894-1904.
National University of Ireland Galway ->