The regeneration of lesioned axons is critically influenced by the local microenvironment. In this study, semipermeable polymer tubes were used to provide a defined microenvironment in vivo to analyze the regeneration of dorsal root axons under various conditions in the adult rat. Cut dorsal root fibers grew across a 2.7 mm gap within enclosed polymer tubes by 4 weeks. The pattern of axonal outgrowth was dramatically influenced by mechanical factors such as the inner surface topography of the polymer tube. Tubes containing various molecular and cellular substrates were also used to study their effect on dorsal root regeneration.

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