Modification of Schwann cell gene expression by electroporation in vivo

Manuela Aspalter, Alka Vyas, Jeffrey Feiner, John Griffin, Thomas Brushart, Richard Redett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Clinical outcomes of nerve grafting are often inferior to those of end-to-end nerve repair. This may be due, in part, to the routine use of cutaneous nerve to support motor axon regeneration. In previous work, we have demonstrated that Schwann cells express distinct sensory and motor phenotypes, and that these promote regeneration in a modality-specific fashion. Intra-operative modification of graft Schwann cell phenotype might therefore improve clinical outcomes. This paper demonstrates the feasibility of electroporating genes into intact nerve to modify Schwann cell gene expression. Initial trials established 70 V, 5 ms as optimum electroporation parameters. Intact, denervated, and reinnervated rat tibial nerves were electroporated with the YFP gene and evaluated serially by counting S-100 positive cells that expressed YFP. In intact nerve, a mean of 28% of Schwann cells expressed the gene at 3 days, falling to 20% at 7 days with little expression at later times. There were no significant differences among the three groups at each time period. Electronmicroscopic evaluation of treated, intact nerve revealed only occasional demyelination and axon degeneration. Intra-operative electroporation of nerve graft is thus a practical means of altering Schwann cell gene expression without the risks inherent in viral transfection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-103
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 30 2009


  • Electroporation
  • Gene therapy
  • Nerve graft
  • Schwann cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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