J Vis Exp. (60):. doi: 10.3791/3606. February 22, 2012.
Bauder AR and Ferguson TA
Regeneration in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) is widely studied both for its relevance to human disease and to understand the robust regenerative response mounted by PNS neurons thereby possibly illuminating the failures of CNS regeneration(1). Sciatic nerve crush (axonotmesis) is one of the most common models of peripheral nerve injury in rodents(2). Crushing interrupts all axons but Schwann cell basal laminae are preserved so that regeneration is optimal(3,4). This allows the investigator to study precisely the ability of a growing axon to interact with both the Schwann cell and basal laminae(4). Rats have generally been the preferred animal models for experimental nerve crush. They are widely available and their lesioned sciatic nerve provides a reasonable approximation of human nerve lesions(5,4). Though smaller in size than rat nerve, the mouse nerve has many similar qualities. Most importantly though, mouse models are increasingly valuable because of the wide availability of transgenic lines now allows for a detailed dissection of the individual molecules critical for nerve regeneration(6, 7). Prior investigators have used multiple methods to produce a nerve crush or injury including simple angled forceps, chilled forceps, hemostatic forceps, vascular clamps, and investigator-designed clamps(8,9,10,11,12). Investigators have also used various methods of marking the injury site including suture, carbon particles and fluorescent beads(13,14,1). We describe our method to obtain a reproducibly complete sciatic nerve crush with accurate and persistent marking of the crush-site using a fine hemostatic forceps and subsequent carbon crush-site marking. As part of our description of the sciatic nerve crush procedure we have also included a relatively simple method of muscle whole mount we use to subsequently quantify regeneration.