J Reconstr Microsurg 2008; 24(4): 267-276
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1078696
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Enhanced Rat Sciatic Nerve Regeneration through Silicon Tubes Implanted with Valproic Acid

Fei Wu1 , Danmou Xing1 , Zhengren Peng1 , Ting Rao2
  • 1Department of Hand Surgery and Microsurgery, Pu Ai Hospital of Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan City, Hu Bei Province, People's Republic of China
  • 2Department of Urology, Ren Min Hospital, Wuhan University, Wuhan City, Hu Bei Province, People's Republic of China
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
21 May 2008 (online)


Valproic acid (VPA) is an effective antiepileptic drug and mood stabilizer. It has recently been demonstrated that VPA could promote neurite outgrowth, activate the extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway, and increase B-cell lymphoma/leukemia-2 (bcl-2)and growth cone-associated protein 43 (GAP-43) levels in spinal cord. We hypothesized that VPA could enhance axonal regeneration in the rat. In the present research, we demonstrate the effect of VPA on peripheral nerve regeneration and recovery of motor function through a silicon tube implanted with VPA. The left sciatic nerves were exposed through dorsal-splitting incisions, and 8-mm nerve sections were excised at the middle of the thigh. Then, a 1.0-cm-long silicone tube (internal diameter,1.0 mm; exterior diameter, 2.0 mm) was used to bridge the nerve deficit, anchored to the proximal and distal terminals of the excised deficit of sciatic nerves with 9–0 nylon epineural suture. Sterile petroleum jelly was used to seal the ends of the tubes to avoid leakage. The rats in the VPA group and control group were locally delivered 10 μL VPA injection (400 mg/5 mL) and normal saline, respectively, after the operation. The sciatic nerve index (SFI) was observed in each animal at 2-week intervals and electrophysiology was studied at 4-week intervals for 12 weeks. Histological and morphometrical analyses were performed at the end of the experiment (12 weeks after the operation). Using the digital image-analysis system, the thickness of the myelin sheath was measured, and total numbers of regenerated axons were counted. There was a significant difference in SFI, electrophysiological index (motor-nerve conduct velocity, amplitude of activity potential), and morphometrical results (regenerated axon number and thickness of myelin sheath) in nerve regeneration between the VPA group and controls (p < 0.05). The results demonstrated that VPA is able to enhance sciatic nerve regeneration in rats, suggesting the potential clinical application of VPA for the treatment of peripheral nerve injury in humans.


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Fei WuM.D. 

Department of Hand Surgery and Microsurgery, Pu Ai Hospital of Huazhong University of Science and Technology

Wuhan City, Hu Bei Province, 430033, People's Republic of China