1. Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Shanghai General Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, People's Republic of China;
2. Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Shanghai 9th People's Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, People's Republic of China;
3. Plastic Surgery Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, People's Republic of China;
4. Jiangpu Primary Health Service Center, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.
* Yang Wang and Dong Li contributed equally to this work.
Combinations of fibroblasts (Fbs) and corresponding epithelial cells have been widely used in many tissues, such as the skin and breast tissues, to augment tissue repair and remodeling. Recently, a large amount of new data has indicated that nerve Fbs play critical roles in Schwann cells (SCs) and axons in vitro. However, little is known regarding the effects of co-transplanting nerve Fbs and SCs on peripheral nerve repair in vivo. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of co-transplanting sciatic nerve Fbs (SN-Fbs) and sciatic nerve SCs (SN-SCs) on nerve regeneration. We developed a 5 mm nerve-defect model in mice using a polyurethane (PUR) catheter and then injected one of four different mixtures of cells into the catheters to form the following four groups: pure Matrigel (Control group), SN-Fbs alone (SN-Fb group), SN-Fbs combined with SN-SCs at a ratio of 1:2 (Fb&SC group) and SN-SCs alone (SN-SC group). Histological and functional analyses were performed 3 months later. The results indicated that in vitro, the expression levels of NGF, BDNF and GDNF were significantly higher, and in vivo, a more moderate amount of extracellular matrix was produced in the Fb&SC group than in the SN-SC group. Compared to the other groups, co-transplanting SN-Fbs with SCs at a 1:2 ratio had significantly positive effects on nerve regeneration and functional recovery.
Keywords: fibroblasts, Schwann cells