Interaction of olfactory ensheathing cells with astrocytes may be the key to repair of tract injuries in the spinal cord: the 'pathway hypothesis'.

Spinal Repair Unit, Institute of Neurology, UCL, Queen Square, London, WC1N 3BG, UK.
Journal of Neurocytology (Impact Factor: 1.94). 10/2005; 34(3-5):343-51. DOI: 10.1007/s11068-005-8361-1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Transplantation of cultured adult olfactory ensheathing cells has been shown to induce anatomical and functional repair of lesions of the adult rat spinal cord and spinal roots. Histological analysis of olfactory ensheathing cells, both in their normal location in the olfactory nerves and also after transplantation into spinal cord lesions, shows that they provide channels for the growth of regenerating nerve fibres. These channels have an outer, basal lamina-lined surface apposed by fibroblasts, and an inner, naked surface in contact with the nerve fibres. A crucial property of olfactory ensheathing cells, in which they differ from Schwann cells, is their superior ability to interact with astrocytes. When confronted with olfactory ensheathing cells the superficial astrocytic processes, which form the glial scar after lesions, change their configuration so that their outer pial surfaces are reflected in continuity with the outer surfaces of the olfactory ensheathing cells. The effect is to open a door into the central nervous system. We propose that this formation of a bridging pathway may be the crucial event by which transplanted olfactory ensheathing cells allow the innate growth capacity of severed adult axons to be translated into regeneration across a lesion so that functionally valuable connections can be established.

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    ABSTRACT: Olfactory ensheathing glial cells (OECs) are a specialized type of glia that form a continuously aligned cellular pathway that actively supports unprecedented regeneration of primary olfactory axons from the periphery into the central nervous system. Implantation of OECs stimulates neural repair in experimental models of spinal cord, brain and peripheral nerve injury and delays disease progression in animal models for neurodegenerative diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. OECs implanted in the injured spinal cord display a plethora of pro-regenerative effects; they promote axonal regeneration, reorganize the glial scar, remyelinate axons, stimulate blood vessel formation, have phagocytic properties and modulate the immune response. Recently genome wide transcriptional profiling and proteomics analysis combined with classical or larger scale "medium-throughput" bioassays have provided novel insights into the molecular mechanism that endow OECs with their pro-regenerative properties. Here we review these studies and show that the gaps that existed in our understanding of the molecular basis of the reparative properties of OECs are narrowing. OECs express functionally connected sets of genes that can be linked to at least 10 distinct processes directly relevant to neural repair. The data indicate that OECs exhibit a range of synergistic cellular activities, including active and passive stimulation of axon regeneration (by secretion of growth factors, axon guidance molecules and basement membrane components) and critical aspects of tissue repair (by structural remodeling and support, modulation of the immune system, enhancement of neurotrophic and antigenic stimuli and by metabolizing toxic macromolecules). Future experimentation will have to further explore the newly acquired knowledge to enhance the therapeutic potential of OECs.
    Experimental neurology. 05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: It has been shown that olfactory ensheathing glia (OEG) and Schwann cell (SCs) transplantation are beneficial as cellular treatments for spinal cord injury (SCI), especially acute and sub-acute time points. In this study, we transplanted DsRED transduced adult OEG and SCs sub-acutely (14 days) following a T10 moderate spinal cord contusion injury in the rat. Behaviour was measured by open field (BBB) and horizontal ladder walking tests to ascertain improvements in locomotor function. Fluorogold staining was injected into the distal spinal cord to determine the extent of supraspinal and propriospinal axonal sparing/regeneration at 4 months post injection time point. The purpose of this study was to investigate if OEG and SCs cells injected sub acutely (14 days after injury) could: (i) improve behavioral outcomes, (ii) induce sparing/regeneration of propriospinal and supraspinal projections, and (iii) reduce tissue loss. OEG and SCs transplanted rats showed significant increased locomotion when compared to control injury only in the open field tests (BBB). However, the ladder walk test did not show statistical significant differences between treatment and control groups. Fluorogold retrograde tracing showed a statistically significant increase in the number of supraspinal nuclei projecting into the distal spinal cord in both OEG and SCs transplanted rats. These included the raphe, reticular and vestibular systems. Further pairwise multiple comparison tests also showed a statistically significant increase in raphe projecting neurons in OEG transplanted rats when compared to SCs transplanted animals. Immunohistochemistry of spinal cord sections short term (2 weeks) and long term (4 months) showed differences in host glial activity, migration and proteoglycan deposits between the two cell types. Histochemical staining revealed that the volume of tissue remaining at the lesion site had increased in all OEG and SCs treated groups. Significant tissue sparing was observed at both time points following glial SCs transplantation. In addition, OEG transplants showed significantly decreased chondroitin proteoglycan synthesis in the lesion site, suggesting a more CNS tolerant graft. These results show that transplantation of OEG and SCs in a sub-acute phase can improve anatomical outcomes after a contusion injury to the spinal cord, by increasing the number of spared/regenerated supraspinal fibers, reducing cavitation and enhancing tissue integrity. This provides important information on the time window of glial transplantation for the repair of the spinal cord.
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