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Bone marrow stem cells in facial nerve regeneration from isolated stumps

Severe lesions in the facial nerve may have extensive axonal loss and leave isolated stumps that impose technical difficulties for nerve grafting. Methods: We evaluated bone marrow stem cells (BMSC) in a silicone conduit for rat facial nerve regeneration from isolated stumps. Group A utilized empty silicone tubes; in groups B–D, the tube was filled with acellular gel; and, in groups C and D, undifferentiated BMSC (uBMSC) or Schwann-like cells differentiated from BMSC (dBMSC) were added, respectively. Compound muscle action potentials (CMAPs) were measured, and histology was evaluated. Results: Groups C and D had the highest CMAP amplitudes. Group C had shorter CMAP durations than groups A, B, and D. Distal axonal number and density were increased in group C compared with groups A and B. Conclusions: Regeneration of the facial nerve was improved by both uBMSC and dBMSC in rats, yet uBMSC was associated with superior functional results.