Sieve electrodes provide a chronic interface for stimulating peripheral nerve axons. Yet, successful utilization requires robust axonal regeneration through the implanted electrode. The present study determined the effect of large transit zones in enhancing axonal regeneration and revealed an intimate neural interface with an implanted sieve electrode. Fabrication of the polyimide sieve electrodes employed sacrificial photolithography. The manufactured macro-sieve electrode (MSE) contained nine large transit zones with areas of ~0.285 mm2 surrounded by eight Pt-Ir metallized electrode sites. Prior to implantation, saline, or glial derived neurotropic factor (GDNF) was injected into nerve guidance silicone-conduits with or without a MSE. The MSE assembly or a nerve guidance conduit was implanted between transected ends of the sciatic nerve in adult male Lewis rats. At 3 months post-operation, fiber counts were similar through both implant types. Likewise, stimulation of nerves regenerated through a MSE or an open silicone conduit evoked comparable muscle forces. These results showed that nerve regeneration was comparable through MSE transit zones and an open conduit. GDNF had a minimal positive effect on the quality and morphology of fibers regenerating through the MSE; thus, the MSE may reduce reliance on GDNF to augment axonal regeneration. Selective stimulation of several individual muscles was achieved through monopolar stimulation of individual electrodes sites suggesting that the MSE might be an optimal platform for functional neuromuscular stimulation.
- Functional electrical stimulation
- Nerve regeneration
- Peripheral nerve
- Peripheral nerve interface
- Sieve electrode