Neural interfaces are designed to decode motor intent and evoke sensory precepts in amputees. In peripheral nerves, recording movement intent is challenging because motor axons are only a small fraction compared to sensory fibers and are heterogeneously mixed particularly at proximal levels. We previously reported that pain and myelinated axons regenerating through a Y-shaped nerve guide with sealed ends, can be modulated by luminar release of nerve growth factor (NGF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), respectively. Here, we evaluate the differential potency of NGF, glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), pleiotrophin (PTN), and NT-3 in asymmetrically guiding the regeneration of sensory and motor neurons. We report that, in the absence of distal target organs, molecular guidance cues can mediate the growth of electrically conductive fascicles with normal microanatomy. Compared to Y-tube compartments with bovine serum albumin (BSA), GDNF and NGF increased the motor and sensory axon content, respectively. In addition, the sensory to motor ratio was significantly increased by PTN (12.7:1) when compared to a BDNF + GDNF choice. The differential content of motor and sensory axons modulated by selective guidance cues may provide a strategy to better define axon types in peripheral nerve interfaces.
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