Investigating mechanical behaviour at a core-sheath interface in peripheral nerves

Tillett, Rachel L.; Afoke, Andrew; Hall, Susan M.; Brown, Robert A. and Phillips, James B. (2004). Investigating mechanical behaviour at a core-sheath interface in peripheral nerves. Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System, 9(4) pp. 255–262.



As peripheral nerves bend and stretch, internal elements need to move in relation to each other. However, the way in which intraneural components interact is poorly understood. Previous work identified a distinct core and sheath in the rat sciatic nerve and provides a useful model with which to investigate this interaction. Here we have focused on identifying the mechanical and anatomical characteristics of the interface between core and sheath. Nerve samples, 15 and 20 mm long, of rat sciatic nerves were harvested and placed in a purpose-built jig, and a tensile testing machine was used to pull core from sheath. Mechanical tests of specimens in which core had been previously pulled from sheath by 25% of its initial length achieved a mean pull-out force approximately six times smaller than that achieved using intact controls. These results are consistent with the proposal that core-sheath interactions involve physical connections rather than a viscous fluid interface. Anatomical features of this interface were characterised using transmission electron microscopy. It appeared that sheath was derived from epineurium and most of the perineurium, whilst core consisted of endoneurium and a small proportion of the perineurium: the plane of cleavage appeared to involve the innermost perineurial cell layer.

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