Acute transplantation of olfactory ensheathing cells or Schwann cells promotes recovery after spinal cord injury in the rat

Guillermo García-Alías, Rubén López-Vales, Joaquim Forés, Xavier Navarro, Enrique Verdú
Journal of Neuroscience Research 2004 March 1, 75 (5): 632-41
We compared the neurological and electrophysiological outcome, glial reactivity, and spared spinal cord connectivity promoted by acute transplantation of olfactory ensheathing cells (group OEC) or Schwann cells (group SC) after a mild injury to the rat spinal cord. Animals were subjected to a photochemical injury of 2.5 min irradiation at the T8 spinal cord segment. After lesion, a suspension containing 180,000 OECs or SCs was injected. A control group (group DM) received the vehicle alone. During 3 months postsurgery, behavioral skills were assessed with open field-BBB scale, inclined plane, and thermal algesimetry tests. Motor (MEPs) and somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) were performed to evaluate the integrity of spinal cord pathways, whereas lumbar spinal reflexes were evaluated by the H reflex responses. Glial fibrillary acidic protein and proteoglycan expressions were quantified immunohistochemically at the injured spinal segments, and the preservation of corticospinal and raphespinal tracts caudal to the lesion was evaluated. Both OEC- and SC-transplanted groups showed significantly better results in all the behavioral tests than the DM group. Furthermore, the OEC group had higher MEP amplitudes and lower H responses than the other two groups. At the injury site, the area of spared parenchyma was greater in transplanted than in control injured rats. OEC-transplanted animals had reduced astrocytic reactivity and proteoglycan expression in comparison with SC-transplanted and DM rats. Taken together, these results indicate that transplantation of both OEC and SC has potential for restoration of injured spinal cords. OEC grafts showed superior ability to reduce glial reactivity and to improve functional recovery.

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