Effects of human OEC-derived cell transplants in rodent spinal cord contusion injury

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Journal Article
Brain Research, 2010, 1337 pp. 8 - 20
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Numerous reports indicate that rodent olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) assist in spinal cord repair and clinical trials have been undertaken using autologous transplantation of human olfactory ensheathing cells (hOECs) as a treatment for spinal cord injury. However, there are few studies investigating the efficacy of hOECs in animal models of spinal cord injury. In this study hOECs were derived from biopsies of human olfactory mucosa, purifed by culture in a serum-free medium containing neurotrophin-3, genetically labelled with EGFP, and stored frozen. These hOEC-derived cells were thawed and transplanted into the spinal cord injury site 7 days after a moderate contusion injury of the spinal cord at thoracic level T10 in the athymic rat. Six weeks later the animals receiving the hOEC-derived transplants had greater functional improvement in their hindlimbs than controls, assessed using open field (BBB scale) and horizontal rung walking tests. Histological analysis demonstrated beneficial effects of hOEC-derived cell transplantation: reductions in the volume of the lesion and the cavities within the lesion. The transplanted cells were located at the periphery of the lesion where they integrated with GFAP-positive astrocytes resulting in a significant reduction of GFAP staining intensity adjacent to the lesion. Although their mechanism of action is unclear we conclude that hOEC-derived cell transplants improved functional recovery after transplantation into the contused spinal cord, probably by modulating inflammatory responses and reducing secondary damage to the cord. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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