Object. For decades the gold standard for reconstructing a large peripheral nerve defect has been, and remains, the nerve autograft. Alternatives to the nerve autograft include biological conduits and vessels. Adding stem cells in the lumen of a nerve conduit has been the subject of multiple studies. The purpose of the present meta-analysis was to summarize animal experimental studies on the effect of stem cells as a luminal additive when reconstructing a peripheral nerve defect with a nerve graft. Methods. A literature search of the MEDLINE and Embase databases was performed from inception to April 2012, searching for animal experiments on peripheral nerve reconstruction models in which a nerve conduit was used with and without the support of 3 different types of stem cells. Stem cells were analyzed according to their origin: bone marrow, adipose tissue, and other origins. Included studies had consistent outcome measurements: walking track analysis, muscle mass ratio, and electrophysiology. Results. Forty-four studies were included in the final analysis. Forest plots of the 3 outcome measurements (walking track analysis, muscle mass ratio, and electrophysiology) showed positive effects of stem cells on the regeneration of peripheral nerves at different time points. Almost all comparisons showed significant differences for all 3 stem cells groups compared with a control group in which stem cells were not used. Conclusions. The present report systematically analyzed the different studies that used stem cells as a luminal additive when bridging a large peripheral nerve defect. All 3 different stem cell groups showed a beneficial effect when used in the reconstruction compared with control groups in which stem cells were not used.

Meta-analysis, Peripheral nerve defect, Regeneration, Stem cells
dx.doi.org/10.3171/2014.4.JNS131260, hdl.handle.net/1765/65785
Journal of Neurosurgery
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Hundepool, C.A, Nijhuis, T.H.J, Mohseny, B, Selles, R.W, & Hovius, S.E.R. (2014). The effect of stem cells in bridging peripheral nerve defects: A meta-analysis - A review. Journal of Neurosurgery (Vol. 121, pp. 195–209). doi:10.3171/2014.4.JNS131260