Brief Electrical Stimulation Accelerates Axon Regeneration and Promotes Recovery Following Nerve Transection and Repair in Mice

Junichi Sayanagi, Jesús A. Acevedo-Cintrón, Deng Pan, Lauren Schellhardt, Daniel A. Hunter, Alison K. Snyder-Warwick, Susan Mackinnon, Matt Wood

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4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Clinical outcomes following nerve injury repair can be inadequate. Pulsed-current electrical stimulation (ES) is a therapeutic method that facilitates functional recovery by accelerating axon regeneration. However, current clinical ES protocols involve the application of ES for 60 minutes during surgery, which can increase operative complexity and time. Shorter ES protocols could be a strategy to facilitate broader clinical adoption. The purpose of the present study was to determine if a 10-minute ES protocol could improve outcomes. METHODS: C57BL/6J mice were randomized to 3 groups: no ES, 10 minutes of ES, and 60 minutes of ES. In all groups, the sciatic nerve was transected and repaired, and, in the latter 2 groups, ES was applied after repair. Postoperatively, changes to gene expression from dorsal root ganglia were measured after 24 hours. The number of motoneurons regenerating axons was determined by retrograde labeling at 7 days. Histomorphological analyses of the nerve were performed at 14 days. Function was evaluated serially with use of behavioral tests up to 56 days postoperatively, and relative muscle weight was evaluated. RESULTS: Compared with the no-ES group, both ES groups demonstrated increased regeneration-associated gene expression within dorsal root ganglia. The 10-minute and 60-minute ES groups demonstrated accelerated axon regeneration compared with the no-ES group based on increased numbers of labeled motoneurons regenerating axons (mean difference, 202.0 [95% confidence interval (CI), 17.5 to 386.5] and 219.4 [95% CI, 34.9 to 403.9], respectively) and myelinated axon counts (mean difference, 559.3 [95% CI, 241.1 to 877.5] and 339.4 [95% CI, 21.2 to 657.6], respectively). The 10-minute and 60-minute ES groups had improved behavioral recovery, including on grid-walking analysis, compared with the no-ES group (mean difference, 11.9% [95% CI, 3.8% to 20.0%] and 10.9% [95% CI, 2.9% to 19.0%], respectively). There was no difference between the ES groups in measured outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: A 10-minute ES protocol accelerated axon regeneration and facilitated functional recovery. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The brief (10-minute) ES protocol provided similar benefits to the 60-minute protocol in an acute sciatic nerve transection/repair mice model and merits further studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e80
JournalThe Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 20 2021


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