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Brain. 2005 Dec;128(Pt 12):2961-76. Epub 2005 Oct 26.

Olfactory ensheathing glial co-grafts improve functional recovery in rats with 6-OHDA lesions.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. saga.johansson@neuro.ki.se


Olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC) transplanted to the site of a spinal cord injury can promote axonal sparing/regeneration and functional recovery. The purpose of this study was to investigate if OEC enhance the effects of grafted dopamine-neuron-rich ventral mesencephalic tissue (VM) in a rodent model of Parkinson's disease. We co-grafted VM with either OEC or astrocytes derived from the same olfactory bulbs as the OEC to rats with a unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesion of the nigrostriatal system. Co-grafting fetal VM with OEC, but not with astrocytes enhanced dopamine cell survival, striatal reinnervation and functional recovery of amphetamine- and apomorphine-induced rotational behaviour compared with grafting embryonic VM alone. Grafting OEC or astrocytes alone had no effects. Intriguingly, only in the presence of OEC co-grafts, did dopamine neurons extend strikingly long neurites that reached peripheral striatal compartments. Comparable results were observed in a co-culture system where OEC promoted dopamine cell survival and neurite elongation through a mechanism involving both releasable factors and direct contact. Cell type analysis of fetal VM grafts suggested that dopamine neurons of the substantia nigra rather than of the ventral tegmental area were increased in the presence of OEC co-grafts. We conclude that the addition of OEC enhances efficacy of grafted immature dopamine neurons in a rat Parkinson's disease model.

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