Modelling the impact of altered axonal morphometry on the response of regenerative nervous tissue to electrical stimulation through macro-sieve electrodes

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Objective. Regenerated peripheral nervous tissue possesses different morphometric properties compared to undisrupted nerve. It is poorly understood how these morphometric differences alter the response of the regenerated nerve to electrical stimulation. In this work, we use computational modeling to explore the electrophysiological response of regenerated and undisrupted nerve axons to electrical stimulation delivered by macro-sieve electrodes (MSEs). Approach. A 3D finite element model of a peripheral nerve segment populated with mammalian myelinated axons and implanted with a macro-sieve electrode has been developed. Fiber diameters and morphometric characteristics representative of undisrupted or regenerated peripheral nervous tissue were assigned to core conductor models to simulate the two tissue types. Simulations were carried out to quantify differences in thresholds and chronaxie between undisrupted and regenerated fiber populations. The model was also used to determine the influence of axonal caliber on recruitment thresholds for the two tissue types. Model accuracy was assessed through comparisons with in vivo recruitment data from chronically implanted MSEs. Main results. Recruitment thresholds of individual regenerated fibers with diameters >2 μm were found to be lower compared to same caliber undisrupted fibers at electrode to fiber distances of less than about 90-140 μm but roughly equal or higher for larger distances. Caliber redistributions observed in regenerated nerve resulted in an overall increase in average recruitment thresholds and chronaxie during whole nerve stimulation. Modeling results also suggest that large diameter undisrupted fibers located close to a longitudinally restricted current source such as the MSE have higher average recruitment thresholds compared to small diameter fibers. In contrast, large diameter regenerated nerve fibers located in close proximity of MSE sites have, on average, lower recruitment thresholds compared to small fibers. Utilizing regenerated fiber morphometry and caliber distributions resulted in accurate predictions of in vivo recruitment data. Significance. Our work uses computational modeling to show how morphometric differences between regenerated and undisrupted tissue results in recruitment threshold discrepancies, quantifies these differences, and illustrates how large undisrupted nerve fibers close to longitudinally restricted current sources have higher recruitment thresholds compared to adjacently positioned smaller fibers while the opposite is true for large regenerated fibers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number026009
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 25 2018


  • nerve interface
  • nerve modeling
  • nerve regeneration
  • nerve stimulation
  • peripheral nerve
  • sieve electrode


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