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J Neurosci. 2006 Oct 25;26(43):11120-30.

Olfactory ensheathing cells do not exhibit unique migratory or axonal growth-promoting properties after spinal cord injury.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) have been reported to migrate long distances and to bridge lesion sites, guiding axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury (SCI). To understand mechanisms of OEC migration and axonal guidance, we injected lamina propria OECs 1 mm rostral and caudal to C4 SCI sites. One month later, OECs formed an apparent migrating cell tract continuously extending from the injection site through the lesion, physically bridging the lesion. Confocal immunolabeling demonstrated that, whereas this cell tract displaced host astrocytes, descending or ascending long tract axons did not preferentially extend into the cell tract and OECs failed to support bridging of corticospinal axons. Notably, the "bridging" tract of OECs formed within 1 h of cell injection, raising the possibility that cells passively spread from the pressure injection site rather than actively migrating. Control injections of bone marrow stromal cells (MSCs) or fibroblasts 1 mm from the lesion site also rapidly dispersed into the lesion cavity. Cell tracts extending into the lesion site were not seen when cells were injected either at low volumes, into spinal cord gray matter, or 3 d before or 9 d after SCI. OECs proliferated in injection sites, cell tracts, and lesion sites, indicating that OECs can also accumulate through cell proliferation. Thus, OECs do not appear to exhibit significant migratory properties when grafted to the spinal cord, exhibit no detectable difference in promoting axon growth into a SCI site compared with MSCs or fibroblasts, and do not support bridging of corticospinal axons beyond a dorsal column lesion.

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