Skeletal muscle repair following Plantar nerve relocation on an extracellular matrix seeded with mesenchymal stem cells in PEGylated fibrin gel as a treatment model for volumetric muscle loss.

Da Costa, Adriana Jocelyn
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The toll skeletal muscle injury, resulting in significant muscle mass loss, has on the patient reaches far more than physical and emotional, as the tolls are financial as well. Approximately more than 3 billion dollars is spent on the initial medical costs and on subsequent disability benefits, following a volumetric muscle loss. Skeletal muscle has a robust capacity for self-repair; this propensity for repair is hindered when skeletal muscle loss is larger than 20% of the total mass of the muscle. Previous work in our lab, has shown functional and morphological improvements following the cellular therapy, with mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), as well as with nerve relocation to the extracellular matrix (ECM). To further observe the regenerative properties of the above treatments, a defect weighing approximately 307 ± 3.7 mg wet weight and measuring approximately 1x 1cm² was removed from the lateral gastrocnemius (LGAS) of male Sprague Dawley rats. Additionally, the medial branch of the plantar nerve was then relocated and implanted to the middle of the ECM. Seven days post injury bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells were injected directly into the implant using a PEGylated Fibrin hydrogel (PEG). Following 56 days of recovery, partial functional restoration was observed in the LGAS ECM seeded with MSC and implanted with the plantar nerve. The LGAS produced 86.3 ± 5.8% of the contralateral LGAS, a value that was significantly higher than ECM implantation alone (p <.05). The implanted ECM seeded with MSC and implanted with the plantar nerve showed significant increases in blood vessel density and myofiber content (p <.05). The data suggest that a volumetric injury can be repaired by neurotization of an implanted muscle-derived ECM seeded with MSCs.