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J Neurotrauma. 2006 Mar-Apr;23(3-4):453-67.

Schwann cell transplantation for repair of the adult spinal cord.

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The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and the Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, USA.


The Schwann cell is one of the most widely studied cell types for repair of the spinal cord. These cells play a crucial role in endogenous repair of peripheral nerves due to their ability to dedifferentiate, migrate, proliferate, express growth promoting factors, and myelinate regenerating axons. Following trauma to the spinal cord, Schwann cells migrate from the periphery into the injury site, where they apparently participate in endogenous repair processes. For transplantation into the spinal cord, large numbers of Schwann cells are necessary to fill injury-induced cystic cavities. Several culture systems have been developed that provide large, highly purified populations of Schwann cells. Importantly, the development of in vitro systems to harvest human Schwann cells presents a unique opportunity for autologous transplantation in the clinic. In animal models of spinal cord injury (SCI), grafting Schwann cells or peripheral nerve into the lesion site has been shown to promote axonal regeneration and myelination. However, axons do not regenerate beyond the transplant due to the inhibitory nature of the glial scar surrounding the injury. To overcome the glial scar inhibition, additional approaches such as increasing the intrinsic capacity of axons to regenerate and/or removal of the inhibitory molecules associated with reactive astrocytes and/or oligodendrocyte myelin should be incorporated. Clearly, Schwann cells have great potential for repair of the injured spinal cord, but they need to be combined with other interventions to maximize axonal regeneration and functional recovery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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