Aberrant gastrocnemius muscle innervation by tibial nerve afferents after implantation of chitosan tubes impregnated with progesterone favored locomotion recovery in rats with transected sciatic nerve

Rachel Sarabia-Estrada, Jacinto Bañuelos-Pineda, Laura P. Osuna Carrasco, Salvador Jiménez-Vallejo, Ismael Jiménez-Estrada, Efrain Rivas-Celis, Judith M. Dueñas-Jiménez, Sergio H. Dueñas-Jiménez

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5 Scopus citations


Object Transection of peripheral nerves produces loss of sensory and/or motor function. After complete nerve cutting, the distal and proximal segment ends retract, but if both ends are bridged with unaltered chitosan, progesteroneimpregnated chitosan, or silicone tubes, an axonal repair process begins. Progesterone promotes nerve repair and has neuroprotective effects thwarting regulation of neuron survival, inflammation, and edema. It also modulates aberrant axonal sprouting and demyelination. The authors compared the efficacy of nerve recovery after implantation of progesterone-loaded chitosan, unaltered chitosan, or silicone tubes after sciatic nerve transection in rats. Methods After surgical removal of a 5-mm segment of the proximal sciatic nerve, rats were implanted with progesterone-loaded chitosan, unaltered chitosan, or silicone tubes in the transected nerve for evaluating progesterone and chitosan effects on sciatic nerve repair and ipsilateral hindlimb kinematic function, as well as on gastrocnemius electromyographic responses. In some experiments, tube implantation was performed 90 minutes after nerve transection. Results At 90 days after sciatic nerve transection and tube implantation, rats with progesterone-loaded chitosan tubes showed knee angular displacement recovery and better outcomes for step length, velocity of locomotion, and normal hindlimb raising above the ground. In contrast, rats with chitosan-only tubes showed reduced normal raising and pendulum-like hindlimb movements. Aberrant fibers coming from the tibial nerve innervated the gastrocnemius muscle, producing electromyographic responses. Electrical responses in the gastrocnemius muscle produced by sciatic nerve stimulation occurred only when the distal nerve segment was stimulated; they were absent when the proximal or intratubular segment was stimulated. A clear sciatic nerve morphology with some myelinated fiber fascicles appeared in the tube section in rats with progesterone-impregnated chitosan tubes. Some gastrocnemius efferent fibers were partially repaired 90 days after nerve resection. The better outcome in knee angle displacement may be partially attributable to the aberrant neuromuscular synaptic effects, since nerve conduction in the gastrocnemius muscle could be blocked in the progesterone-impregnated chitosan tubes. In addition, in the region of the gap produced by the nerve resection, the number of axons and amount of myelination were reduced in the sciatic nerve implanted with chitosan, progesteroneloaded chitosan, and silicone tubes. At 180 days after sciatic nerve sectioning, the knee kinematic function recovered to a level observed in control rats of a similar age. In rats with progesterone-loaded chitosan tubes, stimulation of the proximal and intratubular sciatic nerve segments produced an electromyographic response. The axon morphology of the proximal and intratubular segments of the sciatic nerve resembled that of the contralateral nontransected nerve. Conclusions Progesterone-impregnated chitosan tubes produced aberrant innervation of the gastrocnemius muscle, which allowed partial recovery of gait locomotion and could be adequate for reinnervating synergistic denervated muscles while a parent innervation is reestablished. Hindlimb kinematic parameters differed between younger (those at 90 days) and older (those at 180 days) rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-282
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2015


  • Chitosan tubes
  • Peripheral nerve
  • Progesterone
  • Sciatic nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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