gms | German Medical Science

64th Annual Meeting of the German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)

German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)

26 - 29 May 2013, Düsseldorf

Influence of brief electrical stimulation on peripheral nerve regeneration in heterozygous trkB deficient mice

Meeting Abstract

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  • Marvin Henze - Klinik und Poliklinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinkum Hamburg-Eppendorf; Zentrum für Molekulare Neurobiologie Hamburg, Universität Hamburg
  • Andrey Irintchev - Klinik für Hals-, Nasen- und Ohrenheilkunde, Universitätsklinikum Jena; Zentrum für Molekulare Neurobiologie Hamburg, Universität Hamburg
  • Melitta Schachner - Zentrum für Molekulare Neurobiologie Hamburg, Universität Hamburg; Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, USA

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. 64. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (DGNC). Düsseldorf, 26.-29.05.2013. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2013. DocP 071

doi: 10.3205/13dgnc488, urn:nbn:de:0183-13dgnc4887

Published: May 21, 2013

© 2013 Henze et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: Functional recovery after peripheral axonal injury is often insufficient and several treatments to improve neuronal regeneration have been investigated. Brief electrical stimulation, for instance, has previously been shown to accelerate axonal sprouting and distal nerve stump reinnervation, up-regulate regeneration-associated genes and accelerate functional recovery after peripheral nerve injury. These effects are believed to be mediated by BDNF and its high-affinity receptor trkB, which are up-regulated after axonal injury.

Method: The effects of short-term low-frequency brief electrical stimulation (1 h, 20 Hz) after femoral nerve injury and immediate nerve repair on (1) functional recovery, (2) neuronal survival and (3) precision of reinnervation were investigated in heterozygous trkB deficient mice (trkB+/-, n=8) compared to their wild-type littermates (trkB+/+, n=8) in the femoral nerve paradigm. Recovery of the quadriceps muscle function was assessed by single-frame motion analysis over a post-operative period of 3 months, while axonal reinnervation of the distal nerve stump was evaluated morphologically using retrograde labelling after 12 weeks of recovery.

Results: Functional recovery was worse in trkB+/- mice compared to their wild-type littermates at 2-8 weeks after injury but the final outcome at 12 weeks was similar in the two genotypes. Morphological analysis revealed, in accordance with the functional data, a similar degree of motoneuronal regeneration at 12 weeks after injury and no preferential motor reinnervation in the two genotypes.

Conclusions: The findings of worse functional recovery during the first 2 month after injury in heterozygous trkB versus wild-type mice imply that trkB is directly or indirectly related to reduced trkB expression and provides further evidence that enhanced trkB signalling underlies the effect of brief electrical stimulation on nerve regeneration. The level of trkB protein expressed in the heterozygous mouse appears, however, to be sufficient to compensate, at later time points after injury, for initial deficits in regeneration.