Background: A bridging nerve autograft is the gold standard for the repair of segmental nerve injury that cannot be repaired directly. However, limited availability and donor site morbidity remain major disadvantages of autografts. Here, a nerve allograft decellularized with elastase was compared with an autograft regarding functional motor outcome in a rat sciatic segmental nerve defect model. Furthermore, the effect of storage on this allograft was studied. Methods: Sixty-six Lewis rats (250–300 g) underwent a 10-mm sciatic nerve reconstruction using either a cold- (n = 22) or frozen-stored (n = 22) decellularized nerve allograft or an autograft (n = 22). Sprague–Dawley rats (300–350 g) served as full major histocompatibility complex-mismatched donors. Functional motor outcome was evaluated after 12 and 16 weeks. Ankle angle, compound muscle action potential (CMAP), isometric tetanic force, wet muscle weight, and histomorphometry were tested bilaterally. Results: For CMAP and isometric tetanic force, no significant differences were observed between groups. In contrast, for ankle angle, histomorphometry and muscle weight, the cold-stored allograft performed comparable to the autograft, while the frozen-stored allograft performed significantly inferior to the autograft. At week 16, ankle angle was 88.0 ± 3.1% in the cold-stored group, 77.4 ± 3.6% in the frozen-stored group, and 74.1 ± 3.1% in the autograft group (P <.001); At week 16, the muscle weight showed a recovery up to 71.1 ± 4.8% in the autograft group, 67.0 ± 6.6% in the cold-stored group, and 64.7 ± 3.7% in the frozen-stored group (P <.05). Conclusions: A nerve allograft decellularized with elastase, if stored under the right conditions, results in comparable functional motor outcomes as the gold standard, the autograft.
ASJC Scopus subject areas