Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Using a Nerve Conduit with Olfactory Ensheathing Cells in a Rat Model



Autologous nerve grafts are the gold standard treatment for peripheral nerve injury treatment. However, this procedure cannot avoid sacrificing other nerves as a major limitation. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the potential of olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) embedded in a nerve conduit.


A 10-mm segment of the sciatic nerve was resected in 21 rats, and the nerve injury was repaired with one of the following (n = 7 per group): autologous nerve graft, poly (ε-caprolactone) (PCL) conduit and OECs, and PCL conduit only. The consequent effect on nerve regeneration was measured based on the nerve conduction velocity (NCV), amplitude of the compound muscle action potential (ACMAP), wet muscle weight, histomorphometric analysis, and nerve density quantification.


Histomorphometric analysis revealed nerve regeneration and angiogenesis in all groups. However, there were significant differences (p < 0.05) in the ACMAP nerve regeneration rate of the gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior muscles between the autologous graft (37.9 ± 14.3% and 39.1% ± 20.4%) and PCL only (17.8 ± 8.6% and 13.6 ± 5.8%) groups, and between the PCL only and PCL + OECs (46.3 ± 20.0% and 34.5 ± 14.6%) groups, with no differences between the autologous nerve and PCL + OEC groups (p > 0.05). No significant results in NCV, wet muscle weight, and nerve density quantification were observed among the 3 groups.


A PCL conduit with OECs enhances the regeneration of injured peripheral nerves, offering a good alternative to autologous nerve grafts.

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This research was supported by a Grant of Translational R&D Project through Institute for Bio-Medical convergence, Incheon St. Mary’s Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea. The authors wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Catholic Medical Center Research Foundation made in the program year of 2017.

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Correspondence to Sang-Uk Lee.

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The animal studies were performed after receiving approval from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of The Catholic University of Korea. (IACUC approval No. CIMH-2017-005). All procedures on animals were performed in accordance with the rules recommended by the Ethics Review Committee for Animal Experimentation.

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Lee, JY., Kim, YH., Kim, BY. et al. Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Using a Nerve Conduit with Olfactory Ensheathing Cells in a Rat Model. Tissue Eng Regen Med (2021).

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  • Peripheral nerve injury
  • Olfactory ensheathing cells
  • Poly (ε-caprolactone) conduit
  • Nerve conduction study