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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010 Dec;126(6):1874-89. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181f5274e.

Inducible nerve growth factor delivery for peripheral nerve regeneration in vivo.

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  • 1Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery Institute, University of California, Irvine, Orange, CA 92868-3298, USA.



HEK-293 cells can be genetically modified to release and regulate nerve growth factor (NGF) in vitro. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of this NGF delivery system on peripheral nerve regeneration in vivo.


HEK-293 cells were transfected with an ecdysone receptor, NGF cDNA, and herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase suicide vector. NGF production is induced by ponasterone A and stopped by ganciclovir. A 13-mm sciatic nerve gap was bridged with Silastic conduits in 120 nude rats, and transfected HEK-293 cells were added, induced, and boostered to secrete bioactive NGF.


The induction of the cell line and additional booster with ponasterone A demonstrated significantly higher levels of bioactive NGF, enhanced macroscopic nerve growth, improved functional recovery, and histologic regeneration when compared with control groups after 7, 14, and 21 days, and 2 and 4 months. The treatment with ganciclovir resulted in suppression of the NGF production and decreased functional and histologic outcomes.


Transfected HEK-293 cells can be regulated to inducibly produce bioactive NGF in vivo over prolonged periods. This tissue-engineered nerve construct including the NGF delivery system is able to improve peripheral nerve regeneration and functional recovery and appears to be superior to nerve isografts.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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