Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Schwann-like cells seeded in acellular nerve grafts improve nerve regeneration

Lihong Fan, Zefeng Yu, Jia Li, Xiaoqian Dang and Kunzheng Wang*

Author Affiliations

The first department of Orthopedics, the Second Affilliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University, No. 157 Xiwu Road, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province 710004, China

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:165  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-165

Published: 21 May 2014



This study evaluated whether Schwann-like cells (SLCs) induced from bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) transplanted into acellular nerve grafts (ANGs) could repair nerve defects compared with nerve isografts and ANGs with BM-MSCs.


BM-MSCs extracted, separated and purified from the bone marrow of rats, and some of the BM-MSCs were cultured with mixed induction agents that could induce BM-MSCs into SLCs. Either SLCs or BM-MSCs were seeded onto 10-mm ANGs, and the isografts were chosen as the control. The walking-track test, tibialis anterior muscle weight measurement, electrophysiological examination, toluidine blue staining, transmission electron micrographs and immunostaining of S-100 and VEGF in these three groups were evaluated in a 10-mm rat sciatic injury-repair model.


The walking-track test, tibialis anterior muscle weight measurement and electrophysiological examination of the sciatic nerve suggested the groups of ANGs with SLCs and isografts obtained better results than the BM-MSC group (P < 0.05). Meanwhile, the results of the SLCs and isograft groups were similar (P > 0.05). All the histomorphometric analyses (toluidine blue staining, transmission electron micrographs and immunostaining of S-100 and VEGF) showed that there were more regenerating nerve fibers in the group of ANGs with SLCs than the BM-MSCs (P < 0.05), but there was no significant difference between the SLC and isograft groups (P > 0.05).


SLCs seeded in ANGs and isografts show better functional regeneration compared with BM-MSCs seeded in ANGs. Additionally, SLCs combined with ANGs present almost the same outcome as the isografts. Therefore, SLCs with ANGs can be a good choice in nerve defect repairs.

Acellular nerve grafts; Schwann-like cells; Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells; Nerve repair