Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the molecular mechanisms underlying nerve repair by a decellularized nerve allograft seeded with adiposederived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and compare it to the unseeded allograft and autograft nerve. Methods: Undifferentiated MSCs were seeded onto decellularized nerve allografts and used to reconstruct a 10 mm gap in a rat sciatic nerve model. Gene expression profiles of genes essential for nerve regeneration and immunohistochemical staining (IHC) for PGP9.5, NGF, RECA-1, and S100 were obtained 2 weeks postoperatively. Results: Semi-quantitative RT-PCR analysis showed that the angiogenic molecule VEGFA was significantly increased in seeded allografts, and transcription factor SOX2 was downregulated in seeded allografts. Seeded grafts showed a significant increase in immunohistochemical markers NGF and RECA-1, when compared with unseeded allografts. Conclusions: MSCs contributed to the secretion of trophic factors. A beneficial effect of the MSCs on angiogenesis was found when compared with the unseeded nerve allograft, but implanted MSCs did not show evidence of differentiation into Schwann cell-like cells.
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