Article

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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