Peripheral nerve regeneration through allografts compared with autografts in FK506-treated monkeys
The clinical use of nerve allografts combined with immunosuppressant therapy has become a genuine possibility that could supersede the classic use of autografts. However, contradictory data have been reported on whether immunosuppressant therapy should be temporarily administered. The purpose of this study was to compare the nerve regeneration obtained using ulnar nerve allografts in nonhuman primates temporarily treated with FK506 (tacrolimus) with that obtained using nerve autografts.
Four-centimeter nerve autografts or allografts were placed in the distal ulnar motor nerve of eight monkeys. The FK506 was temporarily administered to the animals of the allograft group for 2 months. At periods of 3, 5, and 8 months postsurgery, quantitative electrophysiological recordings were obtained to estimate muscle response. A quantitative analysis of ulnar motor neurons in the spinal cord was performed and axons were counted stereologically. No statistically significant differences were found in the neuronal and axonal counts between autograft and allograft groups at 8 months. The electrophysiological studies showed no differences relative to the amplitude, but the autograft group presented with a greater nerve conduction velocity (NCV). However, no statistically significant differences were found between the number of neurons and distal axonal counts in the two groups.
Nerve regeneration through cold-preserved allografts in a primate model temporarily treated with FK506 was similar to that obtained using nerve autografts, in terms of neuronal and axonal counts. Nevertheless, temporary immunosuppression produced lower NCV when allografts were used, with less maturation of the myelinated fibers, which indicated that a partial rejection had taken place.
CITATION J Neurosurg. 2006 Oct;105(4):602-9