Olfactory ensheathing cells: their role in central nervous system repair

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2005 Apr;37(4):693-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2004.10.010.


The olfactory system is an unusual tissue in that it can support neurogenesis throughout life; permitting the in-growth and synapse formation of olfactory receptor axons into the central nervous system (CNS) environment of the olfactory bulb. It is thought that this unusual property is in part due to the olfactory glial cells, termed olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), but also due to neuronal stem cells. These glial cells originate from the olfactory placode and possess many properties in common with the glial cells from the peripheral nervous system (PNS), Schwann cells. Recent data has suggested that olfactory ensheathing cells are a distinct glial cell type and possess properties, which might make them more suitable for transplant-mediated repair of central nervous system injury models. This paper reviews the biological properties of these cells and illustrates their use in central nervous system repair.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Olfactory Nerve / cytology*
  • Olfactory Nerve / ultrastructure