Silvia Nicolino

Università degli Studi di Torino, Torino, Piedmont, Italy

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Publications (16)30.03 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: A biocompatible and elastomeric PU was synthesized from low-molecular-weight PCL as macrodiol, CMD as chain extender and HDI as chain linker for applications in the field of peripheral nerve repair. PU cast films supported in vitro attachment and proliferation of NOBEC. The in vitro adhesion and proliferation of S5Y5 neuroblastoma cells on the inner surface of uncoated, gelatin- and PL-coated PU guides were compared. Due to their superior in vitro performance, PL-coated PU guides were tested in vivo for the repair of 1.8 cm-long defects in rat sciatic nerves. The progressive regeneration was confirmed by EMG and histological analysis showing the presence of regenerating fibers in the distal stumps.
    Macromolecular Bioscience 02/2011; 11(2):245-56. · 3.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cell transplantation therapy has raised a great interest in the perspective of its employment for nerve tissue repair. Among the various cell populations proposed, olfactory ensheathing glial cells have raised great interest over recent years, especially in the perspective of their employment for neural repair because of their homing capacity in both central and peripheral nervous system. This paper is aimed to provide an in vitro characterization of the NOBEC (neonatal olfactory bulb ensheathing cell) line that was obtained from primary cells dissociated from rat neonatal olfactory bulb (OB) and immortalized by retroviral transduction of SV40 large T antigen. Light and electron microscopy investigation showed that NOBECs are a homogeneous cell population both at structural and ultrastructural level. RT-PCR, Western blotting and immunocytochemistry showed that NOBECs express the glial markers S100, GFAP (Glial Fibrillar Acid Protein) and p75NGFR as well as NRG1 (neuregulin-1) and ErbB1-2-3 receptors; while they are negative for ErbB4. Yet, NOBECs exhibit a high proliferation and migration basal activity and can be transducted with vectors carrying GFP (green fluorescent protein) and NRG1 cDNA. Functional stimulation by means of NRG1-III-beta3 overexpression through viral transduction induced a significant increase in cell proliferation rate while it had no effect on cell migration. Altogether, these results show that NOBEC cell line retain glial features both morphologically and functionally, responding to the NRG1/ErbB-mediated gliotrophic stimulus, and represents thus a good tool for in vitro assays of glial cell manipulation and for in vivo experimental studies of glial cell transplantation in the central and peripheral nervous system.
    Journal of neuroscience methods 09/2009; 185(1):89-98. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Melt-extruded guides for peripheral nerve repair based on poly(epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL) were realised and their physico-chemical properties were evaluated. Preliminarily, PCL cast films were found to support the attachment and proliferation of Neonatal Olfactory Bulb Ensheating Cells (NOBEC). S5Y5 neuroblastoma cells were cultured inside PCL guides in their uncoated form or coated with a non-specific adhesion protein (gelatin) and a specific peptide for nerve regeneration (poly(L-lysine)). Coating increased cell density (gelatin) and/or the cell density rate on substrates (poly(L-lysine); gelatin) as compared to uncoated guides. Various in vivo tests were carried out for the repair of small (0.5 cm), medium (1.5 cm) and long (4.5 cm) size defects in the peripheral nerves of Wistar rats. For the small nerve defects, uncoated and coated PCL guides were tested. Results from in vivo tests were subjected to histological examination after 45 days, 6 and 8 months postoperative for small, medium and large defects, respectively. Regeneration was found for small and medium size defects. For 0.5 cm defects, the coating did not affect regeneration significantly. Grip-tests also evidenced functional recovery for the 1.5 cm-long defects treated with PCL guides, after 6 months from implantation. On the other hand, mechanical stiffness of PCL conduits impaired the repair of 4.5 cm-long defects in 8-month period: the lack of flexibility of the guide to rat movements caused its detachment from the implant site. The research showed that PCL guides can be used for the successful repair of small and medium size nerve defects, with possible improvements by suitable bio-mimetic coatings.
    Biomedical Microdevices 06/2009; 11(5):1037-50. · 2.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The availability of effective experimental models for investigating nerve regeneration and designing new strategies for promoting this unique repair process is important. The aim of this study was to standardize a rat median nerve crush injury model using a non-serrated clamp exerting a compression force of 17.02 MPa for a duration of 30s. Results showed that functional recovery, evaluated by grasping test, was already detectable at day-12 and progressively increased until day-28 after which animal performance plateaued until the end of testing (day-42), reaching a range of 75-80% of pre-operative values. Morphological analysis on the median nerve segments, distal to the crush lesion, which were withdrawn at the end of the experiment showed that regenerated nerve fibers are significantly more numerous and densely packed; they are also smaller and have a thinner myelin sheath compared to controls. Together, these results provide a baseline characterization of the crush median nerve injury experimental model for its employment in the investigation of nerve regeneration research, especially when a reproducible regeneration process is required, such as for the study of biological mechanisms of peripheral nerve fiber regeneration or development of new therapeutic agents for promoting posttraumatic nerve repair.
    Journal of neuroscience methods 05/2009; 179(1):51-7. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Skeletal muscle atrophy represents one of the main causes of poor outcome of microsurgical nerve reconstruction. Recent studies have pointed to the importance of the neuregulin/ErbB signaling pathway in the development and regeneration of the neuromuscular system. Here, we show by immunohistochemistry, RT-PCR, and Western blotting analyses, in an in vivo model of adult skeletal muscle denervation/reinnervation, that expression of Neuregulin1 (NRG1) and ErbB receptors is regulated by the innervation condition. We found out that a significant upregulation of the alpha-, but not beta-, isoform of NRG1, as well as of ErbB2, ErbB3, and ErbB4-cyt1 isoform occurs as a consequence of denervation of flexor digitorum muscles of the rat forelimb by median nerve transection. Moreover, after tubulization median nerve repair, and consequent muscle reinnervation, all messengers of the NRG1/ErbB system are promptly downregulated. Therefore, our results suggest the existence of a alpha-NRG1-mediated autocrine and/or paracrine trophic loop in skeletal muscles that is activated after denervation and promptly deactivated after nerve reconstruction. This myotrophic loop is a promising therapeutic target for the prevention of muscle atrophy. Yet, the recent demonstration of a similar alpha-NRG1-mediated gliotrophic loop in denervated Schwann cells provides a possible explanation for the effectiveness of muscle conduits for tubulization nerve repair.
    Microsurgery 04/2009; 29(6):464-72. · 1.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ErbBs are a family of receptors involved in the trophic maintenance of Schwann cells. Little is known about their expression changes during peripheral nerve regeneration. The aim of this study was thus to investigate variations in ErbBs after end-to-end and end-to-side nerve regeneration in the rat median nerve model. Expression of ErbBs was assessed at 7, 14, and 28 days postoperatively by real-time PCR. Results showed that expression of ErbB1 and ErbB4 mRNAs was downregulated, whereas ErbB3 mRNA was upregulated. No significant changes in ErbB2 mRNA were detected. Our results suggest that ErbBs changes are involved in the molecular response to peripheral nerve injuries.
    Neuroreport 11/2008; 19(16):1605-9. · 1.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Qualitative and quantitative examination was performed to evaluate the expression of peripherin and 200 kDa neurofilament in the sensory compartment of the peripheral nervous system of the rat both in vivo and in a new in vitro model. Under physiological conditions, these two neuronal intermediate filaments show different expression patterns in sensory neurons. To have a more complete comprehension of the role of these intermediate filaments and to fill in the blanks left in previously reported literature, we demonstrate in vivo using a morphological approach that peripherin and 200 kDa neurofilament define two distinct subpopulations within the dorsal root ganglia sensory neurons. Moreover, peripherin is specifically expressed in unmyelinated fibers while 200 kDa neurofilament is expressed in myelinated fibers. Additionally, in vitro analysis of RNA taken from dorsal root ganglia explants suggested that 200 kDa neurofilament is downregulated and peripherin is transiently expressed throughout sensory fiber regrowth. In particular, both neuronal intermediate filaments are downregulated immediately after sensory fiber axotomy thus suggesting that neither peripherin nor 200 kDa neurofilament has a role in the first steps of fiber regrowth. However, the upregulation of peripherin a few days after the beginning of fiber regrowth in vitro suggests that low levels of peripherin may be require to carry on the sequence of events involved in the correct regeneration and direction of sensory fibers.
    Neuroscience 07/2008; 153(4):1153-63. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The experimental investigation of nerve regeneration after microsurgical repair is usually carried out in rats, rather than mice, because of the larger sized peripheral nerves. Today however, the availability of genetically modified mice makes the use of this laboratory animal very intriguing for investigating nerve regeneration at a molecular level. In this study we aimed to provide a standardization of the experimental model based on microsurgical direct repair, by 12/0 suture, of the left median nerve in adult male mice. Postoperative recovery was regularly assessed by the grasping test. At day-75 postoperative, regenerated median nerve fibers were analyzed by design-based quantitative morphology and electron microscopy. Yet, sections were immuno-labelled using two axonal antibodies commonly employed for rat nerve fibers. Results indicated that functional recovery begun at day-15 and progressively increased reaching values not significantly different from normal by day-50. Quantitative morphology showed that, at day-75, the number of regenerated nerve fibers was not significantly different in comparison to controls. In contrast, differences were detected in fiber density, mean axon and fiber diameter and myelin thickness which were all significantly lower than controls. Immunohistochemistry showed that axonal markers commonly used for rat nerves studies are effective also for mouse nerves. Similar to the rat, the mouse median nerve model is superior to sciatic nerve model for the minimal impact on animal well-being and the effectiveness of the grasping test for motor function evaluation. The main limitation is the small nerve size which requires advanced microsurgical skills for performing 12/0 epineurial suturing.
    Journal of Neuroscience Methods 04/2008; 169(1):119-27. · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Reorganization of the muscle endplate structures is an important parameter for the study of posttraumatic neuromuscular recovery. The aim of this study was to investigate the changes and the distribution of the acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) in flexor digitorum sublimis muscle after 30 days of denervation in the rat forelimb experimental model. In young male rats, the median and ulnar nerves of the right forelimb were surgically transected and a 1-cm-long segment was removed to avoid spontaneous regeneration. Along the postoperative, the presence of complete functional loss was assessed by the grasping test. After 30 days, rats were sacrificed and flexor digitorum sublimis muscles of both limbs were explanted. The muscles were analysed by light microscopy, to assess the degree of muscle atrophy, and by immunofluorescence after rodhamine-conjugated alpha-bungarotoxin incubation to investigate the reorganization of endplates. The occurrence of muscle denervation was established, prior to sacrifice, by complete loss of the grip function. Light microscopy showed that 30-day denervation is sufficient to induce severe muscle fiber atrophy. Fluorescence analysis at low resolution showed that background fluorescence was higher in denervated muscles possibly because of the presence of extrajunctional AChR. At higher resolution, the endplates were clearly visible as ribbon-like structures. In control fibres, AChR formed a compact and bright structure while in denervated samples it appeared more diffuse and dimmer. Quantitative analysis showed that endplate area was larger in denervated muscles than in control samples. A corresponding decrease in fluorescence intensity was observed after subtracting the basal fluorescence. In conclusion, results of the present study demonstrate that 30 days of denervation induce severe atrophy in rat flexor digitorum sublimis muscle that is accompanied by significant changes in acetylcholine receptor density and distribution. These results also suggest that the rat median nerve denervation experimental model can be an excellent approach for the study of the progression of endplate re-organization after muscle denervation, and reinnervation, considering also its relatively low impact on animal well being in comparison to other experimental models.
    Italian journal of anatomy and embryology = Archivio italiano di anatomia ed embriologia 01/2008; 113(4):209-16.
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    ABSTRACT: Tissue engineering has recently seen great advancements in many medical fields, including peripheral nerve reconstruction. In the rat median nerve model, we investigated nerve repair by means of bioengineered tissue scaffolds (muscle-vein-combined tubes) focusing on changes in the neuregulin-1/ErbB-receptor system which represents one of the main regulatory systems of axo-glial interaction in peripheral nerves. Repaired nerves were withdrawn at 5, 15, and 30 days postoperative and processed for morphological and retro-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis. Results revealed an early and progressive increase in the expression of NRG1alpha isoform only, while the appearance of the beta isoform of NRG1, which is normally present in peripheral nerves, was delayed. In regards to ErbB2 and ErbB3 receptors, their expression increased progressively inside the muscle-vein-combined scaffolds, though with different kinetics. Taken together, these results suggest that variations in neuregulin-1/ErbB system activation play a key role in peripheral nerve regeneration along bioengineered muscle-vein-combined scaffolds. Since similar variations are also detectable in denervated skeletal muscles, it can be hypothesized that the existence of a NRG1's autocrine/paracrine trophic loop shared by both glial and muscle fibers could be responsible for the effectiveness of muscle-vein-combined conduits for repairing nerve defects.
    Microsurgery 02/2007; 27(5):429-38. · 1.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Over the last five years, we have used the rat forelimb model for investigating neuromuscular recovery after microsurgical nerve reconstruction of median and ulnar nerves by end-to-side neurorrhaphy and muscle-vein-combined tubulization (using both straight and Y-shaped guides). The outcome of nerve repair at different postoperative times was assessed by functional, morphological and biomolecular analysis. Results showed that both end-to-side and tubulization repair of rat median and ulnar nerves led to successful axonal regeneration along the severed nerve trunk as well as to a partial recovery of the lost function as assessed by grasping test. Biomolecular analysis by means of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) demonstrated early overexpression during nerve regeneration of the gliotrophic factor NRG1 and two of its receptors: erbB2 and erbB3. Finally, our experience also suggests that the rat forelimb experimental model is particularly appropriate for the study of microsurgical reconstruction of major mixed nerve trunks. Furthermore, since the forelimb model is less compromising for the animal, it should be preferred to the hindlimb model for many research purposes.
    Acta neurochirurgica. Supplement 02/2007; 100:173-7.
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    ABSTRACT: Over the last 10 years, we have investigated a particular type of bioengineered nerve guide, the muscle-vein-combined tube, which is made by filling a vein with skeletal muscle. In our previous studies we have always used fresh skeletal muscle to fill vein conduits. In the present study we compared the use of fresh and predegenerated (freeze-thawed) skeletal muscle for muscle-vein-combined nerve guides. In this study, a 10-mm-long rat median nerve defect was repaired using either type of nerve guide. The samples were analyzed 5 and 30 days after surgery by light and electron microscopy. In addition, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was carried out to investigate the expression of mRNAs coding for glial markers, as well as glial growth factor (NRG1) and its receptors (erbB2 and erbB3). Results showed differences between the two types of nerve guides at postoperative day 5; however, no difference was detected at day 30 suggesting that both types of tissue-engineered conduit are effective for repairing peripheral nerve defects in this experimental model.
    Microsurgery 02/2007; 27(1):48-55. · 1.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Schwann cells play a critical role in peripheral nerve regeneration. When a non-nervous conduit is used to bridge a nerve defect, the conduit is soon colonized by a number of Schwann cells that make a pathway for regrowing axons. By using electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis, we have investigated the behavior of migratory glial cells along a particular type of autologous tissue-engineered conduit made of a vein filled with fresh skeletal muscle, using the rat sciatic nerve model. With this particular type of autograft, our data show that many Schwann cells soon take up a close relationship with grafted muscle fibers, and especially with their basal lamina, which appears to serve as a migration pathway for them. The early and massive colonization of the conduit is sustained by both Schwann cell migration and proliferation, as demonstrated by PCNA immunostaining. Later, as they meet regenerating axons, Schwann cells become closely associated with them and eventually lose their connections with grafted muscle fibers because of the formation of perineurial envelopes. Because previous studies showed that alpha(2a-2b) NRG1 is overexpressed at early stages along the muscle-vein combined tubes, we have also investigated mRNA expression of its two receptors, erbB2 and erbB3. Both messengers are overexpressed, although with different time courses. Overall, our results provide some morphological and biochemical bases for explaining the effectiveness of fresh muscle-vein combined nerve guides and throw an interesting light on the possible role of alpha(2a-2b) NRG1 through the erbB2/erbB3 heterodimer receptor for nerve regeneration inside non-nervous conduits.
    The Journal of Comparative Neurology 09/2005; 489(2):249-59. · 3.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Using RT-PCR, we have investigated expression of isoforms beta1 (the axonal isoform) and alpha2a-2b (the mesenchymal isoform) of neuregulin-1, one of the most important known trophic factors for Schwann cells, in the rat sciatic nerve repaired by muscle-enriched non-nervous conduits (made by a vein filled with fresh skeletal muscle). Repaired nerves were harvested 2, 6 and 13 days post-operatively. Results showed that while muscle-vein combined grafts were enriched in mRNA coding for alpha2a-2b since the very early regeneration stages, isoform beta1 mRNA was not detectable inside the tubes at day 2 and 6 post-operatively while its expression at day 13 was very slight. These results suggest that Schwann cell survival and activity inside a fresh muscle-enriched non-nervous conduit graft (a key factor for successful nerve regeneration along the graft) may be supported by the mesenchymal isoform of neuregulin-1 during very early repair phases, i.e. when axons are still not present along the tube.
    Neuroreport 09/2003; 14(11):1541-5. · 1.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Among the various grafting procedures that have been studied as alternatives to traditional fresh nerve autografts for the repair of severed peripheral nerves, muscle-vein-combined graft conduits have recently been devised and successfully employed. In the present study, the early presence, origin, and proliferation activity of Schwann cells (SCs) along this particular type of biological graft conduit have been investigated, using antibodies directed against glial fibrillar acid protein (GFAP), a protein that is specifically expressed in glial cells, and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), a protein that is expressed by cells during DNA synthesis. Results showed that the muscle-vein-combined graft was progressively invaded by a number of GFAP-immunopositive SCs, many of which were also found to be immunopositive for PCNA, thus demonstrating that their proliferation continues to occur inside the graft. Among the molecules that could be involved in the stimulation of Schwann-cell proliferation is neuregulin-1 (NRG-1) that mediates its effects by binding to the ErbB receptor tyrosine kinase family. In the present study, the authors report on the RT-PCR analysis for NRG-1 and ErbB3 mRNAs, showing an overall increase in the content of these transcripts inside the muscle-vein-combined graft. These results suggest that the muscle-vein-combined graft conduit constitutes an environment favorable to potentiate Schwann-cell proliferation during the early regeneration phases.
    Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery 03/2003; 19(2):119-23; discussion 124. · 1.00 Impact Factor
  • Neuroreport 01/2003; 14(11):1541-1545. · 1.40 Impact Factor