Vascularized Brachial Plexus Allotransplantation - An Experimental Study in Brown Norway and Lewis Rats

Tommy Nai Jen Chang, Kuang Te Chen, Tessa Gorden, Bassem W. Daniel, Catherine Hernon, Mark Shafarenko, Yen Lin Huang, Johhny Chuieng Yi Lu, David Chwei Chin Chuang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background Brachial plexus injuries are devastating. Current reconstructive treatments achieve limited partial functionality. Vascularized brachial plexus allotransplantation could offer the best nerve graft fulfilling the like-with-like principle. In this experimental study, we assessed the feasibility of rat brachial plexus allotransplantation and analyzed its functional outcomes. Methods A free vascularized brachial plexus with a chimeric compound skin paddle flap based on the subclavian vessels was transplanted from a Brown Norway rat to a Lewis rat. This study has 2 parts. Protocol I aimed to develop the vascularized brachial plexus allotransplantation (VBP-allo) model. Four groups are compared: no reconstruction, VBP-allo with and without cyclosporine A immunosuppression, VBP autotransplantation (VBP-auto). Protocol II compared the recovery of the biceps muscle and forearm flexors when using all 5, 2 (C5 + C6) or 1 (isolated C6) spinal nerve as the donor nerves. The assessment was performed on week 16 and included muscle weight, functionality (grooming tests, muscle strength), electrophysiology and histomorphology of the targeted muscles. Results Protocol I showed, the VBP-allo with cyclosporine A immunosuppression was electrophysiologically and functionally comparable to VBP-auto and significantly superior to negative controls and absent immunosuppression. In protocol II, all groups had a comparable functional recovery in the biceps muscle. Only with 5 donor nerves did the forearm show good results compared with only 1 or 2 donor nerves. Conclusions This study demonstrated a useful vascularized complete brachial plexus allotransplantation rodent model with successful forelimb function restoration under immunosuppression. Only the allotransplantation including all 5 roots as donor nerves achieved a forearm recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-159
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 01 01 2019

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