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Laryngoscope. 2018 Mar;128(3):E117-E122. doi: 10.1002/lary.27004. Epub 2017 Dec 11.

Immunohistologic analysis of spontaneous recurrent laryngeal nerve reinnervation in a rat model.

Author information

1
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Michigan Health Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.
2
Department of Neurology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

After recurrent laryngeal nerve injury (RLN), spontaneous reinnervation of the larynx occurs with input from multiple sources. The purpose of this study was to determine the timing and efficiency of reinnervation across a resected RLN segment in a rat model of RLN injury.

STUDY DESIGN:

Animal study.

METHODS:

Twelve male 60-day-old Sprague Dawley rats underwent resection of a 5-mm segment of the right RLN. Rats were sacrificed at 1, 2, 4, and 12 weeks after nerve injury to harvest the larynx and trachea for immunohistologic analysis. The distal RLN segment was stained with neurofilament, and axons were counted and compared to the nonoperated side. Thyroarytenoid (TA) muscles were stained with alpha-bungarotoxin, synaptophysin, and neurofilament to identify intact neuromuscular junctions (NMJ). The number of intact NMJs from the denervated side was compared to the nonoperated side.

RESULTS:

Nerve fibers regenerated across the resected RLN gap into the distal recurrent laryngeal nerve to innervate the TA muscle. The number of nerve fibers in the distal nerve segment increased over time and reached the normal number by 12 weeks postdenervation. Axons formed intact neuromuscular junctions in the TA, with 48.8% ± 16.7% of the normal number of intact NMJs at 4 weeks and 88.3% ± 30.1% of the normal number by 12 weeks.

CONCLUSION:

Following resection of an RLN segment in a rat model, nerve fibers spontaneously regenerate through the distal segment of the transected nerve and form intact NMJs in order to reinnervate the TA muscle.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

NA. Laryngoscope, 128:E117-E122, 2018.

KEYWORDS:

Laryngeal reinnervation; recurrent laryngeal nerve; vocal fold paralysis

PMID:
29226485
DOI:
10.1002/lary.27004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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