The basal laminae of muscle fibers, when treated by denaturing methods including freeze thawing, have been used as conduits for regenerating nerves. In this study, we developed a new method for denaturing skeletal muscle fibers through treatment with a biological detergent, sodium dodecyl sulfate. Laminin and type IV collagen proteins of muscle fiber basal laminae were preserved after the detergent treatment. A segment of detergent-denatured muscle was grafted to a 1-cm defect of the rat sciatic nerve. One week after grafting, regenerating axons immunostained for neurofilaments were seen extending within laminin-positive muscle fiber basal lamina tubes. Four weeks after grafting, numerous myelinated axons at a much higher level than the control unoperated sciatic nerve, were found in the middle of the graft. They were smaller in diameter than those in the control nerve. Distal host nerves were well reinnervated 4 weeks after grafting. These findings suggest that the basal laminae of detergent-denatured muscle fibers provide effective conduits for regenerating axons.
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