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Brain. 2000 Aug;123 ( Pt 8):1581-8.

Identification of a human olfactory ensheathing cell that can effect transplant-mediated remyelination of demyelinated CNS axons.

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Department of Neurology, University of Glasgow, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Southern General Hospital, Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow, UK.


The olfactory ensheathing cell (OEC) has attracted much interest recently because of its potential for transplantation-based therapy of CNS disease. Rat OECs are able to remyelinate demyelinated axons and support regeneration of damaged axons. Although OECs can be grown readily from the rat, a macrosmatic species, it has been uncertain whether it would be similarly straightforward to obtain these cells from the human, a microsmatic species with a relatively poorly developed olfactory system. In this study, we have identified a human OEC which shares many properties with its rat counterpart, including expression of the low-affinity nerve growth factor receptor (L-NGFr) and similar growth factor requirements. Purified populations of human OECs obtained by selection with L-NGFr antibodies have extremely high viability in tissue culture, and are capable of remyelinating persistently demyelinated CNS axons following transplantation into experimentally induced demyelinating lesions in the rat spinal cord. Thus, the human OEC represents an important new cell for the development of transplant therapy of CNS diseases.

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