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Volume 45 Number 1, 2008
   Pages 141 — 152

Abstract - Potential of olfactory ensheathing cells for cell-based therapy in spinal cord injury

Christine Radtke, MD, PhD;1-3 Masanori Sasaki, MD, PhD;1-2 Karen L. Lankford, PhD;1-2 Peter M. Vogt, MD, PhD;3 Jeffery D. Kocsis, PhD1-2*

1Neuroscience Research Center, Department of Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT; 2Department of Neurology and Center for Neuroscience and Regeneration Research, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; 3Department of Plastic, Hand, and Reconstructive Surgery, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

Abstract — Contusive spinal cord injury (SCI) results in a complex lesion that includes cellular and axonal loss, microglia and macrophage activation, and demyelination. These changes result in permanent neurological deficits in people with SCI and in high financial costs to society. Unlike the peripheral nervous system (PNS), in which axonal regeneration can occur, axonal regeneration in the central nervous system (CNS) is extremely limited. This limited regeneration is thought to result from a lack of a permissive environment and from active inhibitory molecules that are present in the CNS but minimal in the PNS. Currently, cell transplantation approaches are among several experimental strategies being investigated for the treatment of SCI. In the olfactory system, a specialized glial cell called the olfactory ensheathing cell (OEC) has been shown to improve functional outcome when transplanted into rodents with SCI, and clinical studies transplanting OECs into patients with SCI are ongoing in China, Portugal, and other sites. Yet, a number of controversial issues related to OEC biology and transplantation must be addressed to understand the rationale and expectations for OEC cell therapy approaches in SCI. This review provides information on these issues for spinal cord medicine clinicians.

Key words: axons, cell-based therapy, cell transplantation, central nervous system, functional recovery, neuroprotection, olfactory ensheathing cell, rehabilitation, remyelination, spinal cord injury.

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