Sixty-six Sprague-Dawley rats (male, aged 8 to 10 weeks) were allocated to muscle analyses or retrograde labeling. For muscle analyses, animals were allocated into three groups to analyze muscle weight, muscle force, and MUNE after the transfer of the ulnar nerve to the lateral head of the biceps muscle after 3, 6, or 12 weeks, respectively. In the retrograde labeling trial, 21 animals were allocated to quantify motor neurons via retrograde labeling of either the ulnar nerve (n = 6) or the biceps’ lateral head without nerve transfer (n = 6) or 12 weeks after the nerve transfer (n = 9). In addition, in 15 Thy1-GFP rats [male, aged 8 to 10 weeks (27, 28)], the muscular reinnervation was visualized with (n = 6) or without (n = 9) nerve transfer surgery. In addition, target muscles were analyzed with epimysial multichannel EMG electrodes in nine animals 12 weeks after the nerve transfer surgery. In the nerve transfer groups, the contralateral extremity was used as an internal control in all the analyses. All animals received humane care in compliance with the principles of laboratory animal care as recommended by the FELASA (Federation for Laboratory Animal Science Associations) (29). Experimental planning, conduction of experiments, and reporting were done according to the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) guidelines (30). Approval was obtained from the ethics committee of the Medical University of Vienna and the Austrian Ministry for Research and Science (reference number BMWF-66.009/0222-WF/II/3b/2014).

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