Sciatic nerve regeneration is not inhibited by anti-NGF antibody treatment in the adult rat


K.L. Lankforda, E.J. Arroyoa, C.-N. Liub, C.J. Sompsb, M.A. Zorbasc, D.L. Sheltond, M.G. Evansc, S.I. Hurste, J.D. Kocsis


Elevated nerve growth factor (NGF) is believed to play a role in many types of pain. An NGF-blocking antibody (muMab 911) has been shown to reduce pain and hyperalgesia in pain models, suggesting a novel therapeutic approach for pain management. Since NGF also plays important roles in peripheral nervous system development and sensory nerve outgrowth, we asked whether anti-NGF antibodies would adversely impact peripheral nerve regeneration. Adult rats underwent a unilateral sciatic nerve crush to transect axons and were subcutaneously dosed weekly for 8 weeks with muMab 911 or vehicle beginning 1 day prior to injury. Plasma levels of muMab 911 were assessed from blood samples and foot print analysis was used to assess functional recovery. At 8-weeks post-nerve injury, sciatic nerves were prepared for light and electron microscopy. In a separate group, Fluro-Gold was injected subcutaneously at the ankle prior to perfusion, and counts and sizes of retrogradely labeled and unlabeled dorsal root ganglion neurons were obtained. There was no difference in the time course of gait recovery in antibody-treated and vehicle-treated animals. The number of myelinated and nonmyelinated axons was the same in the muMab 911-treated crushed nerves and intact nerves, consistent with observed complete recovery. Treatment with muMab 911 did however result in a small decrease in average cell body size on both the intact and injured sides. These results indicate that muMab 911 did not impair functional recovery or nerve regeneration after nerve injury in adult rats.