Nerve allotransplantation provides a limitless source of nerve graft material for the reconstruction of large neural defects. It does require systemic immunosuppression or induction of immune unresponsiveness to prevent allograft rejection. It is unknown whether a greater volume of nerve graft material will increase the risk of rejection or the need for more intensive immunosuppression. This study assessed the relationship between the quantity of nerve tissue transplanted and the magnitude of the resulting immune response. Forty female (BALB/c) mice were randomly assigned to two groups that received either nerve isografts (BALB/c) or nerve allografts (C57BL/6). Each group was then subdivided into two groups that received either one or 10 sciatic nerve graft inlays. Histological and immunological assessments were performed at 10 days after engraftment. Histologic analysis demonstrated greater cellular infiltration in the allograft than the isograft groups but no appreciable difference in infiltration related to quantity of transplanted nerve tissue. In vitro assessments of the immune response using mixed lymphocyte assays and limiting dilution analysis similarly demonstrated a robust immune response to allografts but no effect on quantity of transplanted nerve tissue. These data suggest that larger peripheral nerve allografts may not be subject to increased risk for rejection.
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