PublicationsAdenoviral vector-mediated expression of a foreign gene in peripheral nerve tissue bridges implanted in the injured peripheral and central nervous system
Axons of the CNS do normally not regenerate after injury, in contrast to axons of the PNS. This is due to a different microenvironment at the site of the lesion as well as a particular intrinsic program of axonal regrowth. Although transplantation of peripheral nerve tissue bridges is perhaps the most successful approach to promoting regeneration in the CNS, ingrowth of CNS nerve fibers with such transplants is limited. Genetic modification of peripheral nerve bridges to overexpress outgrowth-promoting proteins should, in principle, improve the permissive properties of peripheral nerve transplants. The present study shows that pieces of peripheral intercostal nerve, subjected to ex vivo adenoviral vector-mediated gene transfer and implanted as nerve bridges in transected sciatic nerve, avulsed ventral root, hemi-sected spinal cord and intact brain, are capable of expressing a foreign gene. In vitro studies showed expression of the reporter gene LacZ up to 30 days in Schwann cells. After implantation, LacZ expression could be detected at 7 days postimplantation, but had virtually disappeared at 14 days. Schwann cells of the transduced nerve bridges retained the capacity of guiding regenerative peripheral and central nerve fiber ingrowth. Transduction of intercostal nerve pieces prior to implantation should, in principle, enable enhanced local production of neurotrophic factors within the transplant and has the potential to improve the regeneration of injured axons into the graft.