Send to

Choose Destination
Eur J Neurosci. 2016 Feb;43(3):287-96. doi: 10.1111/ejn.13054. Epub 2015 Sep 28.

In vitro models for peripheral nerve regeneration.

Author information

Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, and Cavalieri Ottolenghi Neuroscience Institute, University of Turin, Ospedale San Luigi, Regione Gonzole 10, 10043, Orbassano, Turin, Italy.
Institute of Neuroanatomy, Hannover Medical School and Center for Systems Neuroscience (ZSN), Hannover, Germany.


The study of peripheral nerve repair and regeneration is particularly relevant in the light of the high clinical incidence of nerve lesions. However, the clinical outcome after nerve lesions is often far from satisfactory and the functional recovery is almost never complete. Therefore, a number of therapeutic approaches are being investigated, ranging from local delivery of trophic factors and other molecules to bioactive biomaterials and complex nerve prostheses. Translation of the new therapeutic approaches to the patient always requires a final pre-clinical step using in vivo animal models. The need to limit as much as possible animal use in biomedical research, however, makes the preliminary use of in vitro models mandatory from an ethical point of view. In this article, the different types of in vitro models available today for the study of peripheral nerve regeneration have been ranked by adopting a three-step stair model based on their increasing ethical impact: (i) cell line-based models, which raise no ethical concern; (ii) primary cell-based models, which have low ethical impact as animal use, although necessary, is limited; and (iii) organotypic ex vivo-based models, which raise moderate ethical concerns as the use of laboratory animals is required although with much lower impact on animal wellbeing in comparison to in vivo models of peripheral nerve regeneration. This article aims to help researchers in selecting the best experimental approach for their scientific goals driven by the 'Three Rs' (3Rs) rules (Replacement, Reduction or Refinement of animal use in research) for scientific research.


Schwann cell; cell line; neuron; organotypic culture; primary culture

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for University of Turin Instituional Repository AperTO
Loading ...
Support Center