This study investigated the effects of prolonged cold preservation and Schwann-cell injection on nerve regeneration through peripheral nerve allografts. Forty rats were randomized to the following groups: group I, isograft; group II, allograft; group III, isograft + Schwann cells; group IV, 6-week cold-preserved allograft; and group V, 6-week cold-preserved allograft with Schwann cells. Nerves from all animals were harvested at 4 weeks after surgery for histological and histomorphometric analysis. Untreated allograft recipients demonstrated poor nerve regeneration and histological evidence of rejection. The remaining four groups showed robust regeneration without evidence of rejection. In a short nerve allograft model, prolonged cold preservation of allografts supported robust nerve regeneration, but the addition of cultured Schwann cells conferred no additional benefit for nerve regeneration. Further work in large animals is needed to establish the role for exogenous Schwann cells in nerve allotransplantation.
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