Delayed transplantation of olfactory ensheathing glia promotes sparing/regeneration of supraspinal axons in the contused adult rat spinal cord

J Neurotrauma. 2003 Jan;20(1):1-16. doi: 10.1089/08977150360517146.


The aim of this study was to determine the preferred time and environment for transplantation of olfactory ensheathing glia (OEG) into the moderately contused adult rat thoracic spinal cord. Purified OEG were suspended in culture medium with or without fibrinogen and injected into the contused cord segment at 30 min or 7 days after injury. Control animals received a contusion injury only or injection of only medium 7 days after contusion. The effects on axonal sparing/regeneration and functional recovery were evaluated 8 weeks after injury. The grafts largely filled the lesion site, reducing cavitation, and appeared continuous with the spinal nervous tissue. Whereas in 7d/medium only animals, 54% of spinal tissue within a 2.5-mm-long segment of cord centered at the injury site was spared, significantly more tissue was spared in 0 d/OEG-medium (73%), 0 d/OEG-fibrin (66%), 7 d/OEG-medium (70%), and 7 d/OEG-fibrin (68%) grafted animals. Compared with controls, the grafted animals exhibited more serotonergic axons within the transplant, the surrounding white matter, and the spinal cord up to at least 20 mm caudal to the graft. Retrograde tracing revealed that all but the 0 d/OEG-fibrin graft promoted sparing/regeneration of supraspinal axons compared with controls. Overall, the 7 d/OEG-medium group resulted in the best response, with twice as many labeled neurons in the brain compared with 7 d/medium only controls. Of the labeled neurons, 68% were located in the reticular formation, and 4% in the red, 4% in the raphe, and 5% in the vestibular nuclei. Hindlimb performance was modestly but significantly improved in the 7 d/OEG-medium group. Our results demonstrate that transplantation of OEG into the moderately contused adult rat thoracic spinal cord promotes sparing/regeneration of supraspinal axons and that 7 d transplantation is more effective than acute transplantation of OEG. Our results have relevant implications for future surgical repair strategies of the contused spinal cord.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Brain Tissue Transplantation / methods*
  • Female
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Hindlimb
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / transplantation*
  • Olfactory Mucosa / cytology
  • Olfactory Mucosa / transplantation*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / surgery*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / surgery*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein