Nerve injuries are unfortunately quite common in traumas and when major nerves are heavily damaged, the only options for repair are nerve grafting. For long gaps (>3cm) in nerves autografts (less critical nerves taken from the patient, such as the sural) or acellular cadaveric grafts can be used. Unfortunately, outcomes from these repairs are often disappointing. How nerve heal and the how the body reacts to the nerve graft and repair sites can lend insight into how we can manipulate the regenerative microenvironment to improve regeneration.
Using mouse knock-out models, we are examining the role of different immune system components to address the challenge of peripheral nerve regeneration across long gaps. Mouse models are fantastically powerful and there is no better way to maintain your microsurgical skills than mouse surgery.
Regenerating axon fibers in the mouse sciatic nerve.