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J Neurosci. 2002 Aug 1;22(15):6670-81.

Schwann cell but not olfactory ensheathing glia transplants improve hindlimb locomotor performance in the moderately contused adult rat thoracic spinal cord.

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  • 1The Chambers Family Laboratory of Electron Microscopy, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33136, USA.


Cultured adult rat Schwann cells (SCs) or olfactory ensheathing glia (OEG), or both, were transplanted in the adult Fischer rat thoracic (T9) spinal cord 1 week after a moderate contusion (10 gm, 12.5 mm, NYU impactor). Rats received either a total of 2 x 10(6) cells suspended in culture medium or culture medium only (controls). At 12 weeks after injury, all grafted animals exhibited diminished cavitation. Although in medium-injected rats 33% of spinal tissue within a 5-mm-long segment of cord centered at the injury site was spared, significantly more tissue was spared in SC (51%), OEG (43%), and SC/OEG (44%) grafted animals. All three types of glial grafts were filled with axons, primarily of spinal origin. SC grafts contained more myelinated axons than SC/OEG and OEG grafts. Both types of SC-containing grafts expressed more intense staining for glial fibrillary acidic protein and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan compared with OEG-only grafts. Retrograde tracing demonstrated that the number of propriospinal and brainstem axons reaching 5-6 mm beyond the grafted area was significantly higher with SC and SC/OEG grafts but not with OEG-only grafts compared with controls. Corticospinal fibers terminated closer to the lesion epicenter in all grafted animals than in controls. With SC-only grafts, a modest but statistically significant improvement in hindlimb locomotor performance was detected at 8-11 weeks after injury. Thus, in addition to this functional improvement, our results show that an SC graft is more effective in promoting axonal sparing/regeneration than an SC/OEG or OEG graft in the moderately contused adult rat thoracic spinal cord.

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