Limb transplant in particular and vascularized composite allotransplant (VCA) in general have wide therapeutic promise that have been stymied by current limitations in immunosuppression and functional neuromotor recovery. Many animal models have been developed for studying unique features of VCA, but here we present a robust reproducible model of orthotopic hind limb transplant in rats designed to simultaneously investigate both aspects of current VCA limitation: immunosuppression strategies and functional neuromotor recovery. At the core of the model rests a commitment to meticulous, time-tested microsurgical techniques such as hand sewn vascular anastomoses and hand sewn neural coaptation of the femoral nerve and the sciatic nerve. This approach yields durable limb reconstructions that allow for longer lived animals capable of rehabilitation, resumption of daily activities, and functional testing. With short-term treatment of conventional immunosuppressive agents, allotransplanted animals survived up to 70 days post-transplant, and isotransplanted animals provide long lived controls beyond 200 days post-operatively. Evidence of neurologic functional recovery is present by 30 days post operatively. This model not only provides a useful platform for interrogating immunological questions unique to VCA and nerve regeneration, but also allows for in vivo testing of new therapeutic strategies specifically tailored for VCA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Neuroscience
- General Chemical Engineering
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Immunology and Microbiology