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Ann Anat. 2002 Mar;184(2):189-97.

Impact of innervation and exercise on muscle regeneration in neovascularized muscle grafts in rats.

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  • 1Department of Plastic Surgery, RWTH University of Aachen, Germany.


The direction of known staged process of regeneration of free muscle grafts was inverted in our experimental rat model from a centripetal to a centrifugal by central implantation of blood vessels into isolated free muscle grafts. The effects of innervation, reinnervation and exercise on muscle fiber regeneration were analyzed at various intervals from 4 to 90 days by morphological and morphometric methods. Reinnervation occurred as well in grafts with the motor nerve left intact as it did in grafts with a severed and reimplanted nerve. Reinnervation proved to be prerequisite for a lasting muscle regeneration. Denervated muscle grafts even after neovascularization underwent irreversible fibrosis. A positive effect of exercise on the early states (30 days) of muscle regeneration was revealed by morphometrical analysis. In the long term (90 days) fiber diameter assimilated in all groups. The animal model mimics a clinical situation of flap prefabrication demonstrating the relationship of functional tissue regeneration and neovascularization. It can be transferred into the acute clinical situation as well as in tissue engineering.

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