In vivo evaluation of poly(L-lactic acid) porous conduits for peripheral nerve regeneration

G. R.D. Evans, K. Brandt, M. S. Widmer, L. Lu, R. K. Meszlenyi, P. K. Gupta, A. G. Mikos, J. Hodges, J. Williams, A. Gürlek, A. Nabawi, R. Lohman, C. W. Patrick

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291 Scopus citations


The present study provides in vivo trials of poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) as a porous biodegradable nerve conduit using a 10 mm sciatic nerve defect model in rats. The PLLA conduits, fabricated by an extrusion technique, had an inner diameter of 1.6 mm, an outer diameter of 3.2 mm, and a length of 12 mm. They were highly porous with an interconnected pore structure (of 83.5% porosity and 12.1 μm mean pore size). The conduits were interposed into the right sciatic nerve defect of Sprague Dawley rats using microsurgical techniques; nerve isografts served as controls. Walking track analysis was performed after conduit placement monthly through 16 weeks. At the conclusion of 6 and 16 weeks, sections from the isograft/conduit and distal nerve were harvested for histomorphometric analysis. The right gastrocnemius muscle was also harvested and its weight was determined. All conduits remained intact without breakage. Moreover, no conduit elongated during the 16 weeks of placement. Walking track analysis and gastrocnemius muscle weight demonstrated increasing regeneration over the 16 weeks in both the conduit and isograft control groups, with control values significantly greater. The nerve fiber density in the distal sciatic nerve for the PLLA conduits (0.16 ± 0.07) was similar to that for the control isografts (0.19 ± 0.05) at 16 weeks. The number of axons/mm2 in the distal sciatic nerve for the PLLA conduits was lower than that for the isografts (13,800 ± 2500 vs. 10,700 ± 4700) at 16 weeks. The results for PLLA were significantly improved over those for 75:25 poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid) of a previous study and suggest that PLLA porous conduits may serve as a scaffold for peripheral nerve regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1109-1115
Number of pages7
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Conduit
  • Nerve regeneration
  • Poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA)
  • Tissue engineering


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