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Open Access Long-Term Outcome of Olfactory Ensheathing Cell Therapy for Patients With Complete Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

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The neurorestorative effect of the parenchymal transplantation of olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) for cord trauma remains clinically controversial. The aim of this article is to study the long-term result of OECs for patients with complete chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). One hundred and eight patients suffered from complete chronic SCI were followed up successfully within the period of 3.47 ± 1.12 years after OEC therapy. They were divided into two groups based on the quality and quantity of their rehabilitative training: group A (n = 79) in sufficient rehabilitation (or active movement-target enhancement-neurorehabilitation therapy, AMTENT) and group B (n = 29) in insufficient rehabilitation. All patients were assessed by using the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) standard and the International Association of Neurorestoratology Spinal Cord Injury Functional Rating Scale (IANR-SCIFRS). Thirty-one patients were evaluated by the tests of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electromyography (EMG), and paravertebral sensory evoked potential (PVSEP). We found the following. 1) According to ASIA and IANR-SCIFRS assessment for all 108 patients, averaged motor scores increased from 37.79 ± 18.45 to 41.25 ± 18.18 (p < 0.01), light touch scores from 50.32 ± 24.71 to 55.90 ± 24.46 (p < 0.01), pin prick scores from 50.53 ± 24.92 to 54.53 ± 24.62 (p < 0.01); IANR-SCIFRS scores increased from 19.32 ± 9.98 to 23.12 ± 10.30 (p < 0.01). 2) The score changes in terms of motor, light touch, pin prick, and IANR-SCIFRS in group A were remarkably different (all p < 0.01). The score changes in group B were remarkably different in terms of motor (p < 0.05) and IANR-SCIFRS (p < 0.01), but not light touch or pin prick (p > 0.05). 3) Comparing group A with group B, the increased scores in terms of motor, light touch, and pin prick were remarkably different (all p < 0.01), but not IANR-SCIFRS (p > 0.05). 4) Fourteen of 108 patients (12.96%) became ASIA B from ASIA A; 18 of 108 (16.67%) became ASIA C from ASIA A. Nine of them (8.33%) improved their walk ability or made them rewalk by using a walker with or without assistance; 12 of 84 men (14.29%) improved their sex function. 5) MRI examinations were taken for 31 patients; there were no neoplasm, bleeding, swelling, cysts, neural tissue destruction or infection (abscess) or any other pathological changes in or around OEC transplant sites. 6) EMG examinations were done on 31 patients; 29 showed improvement and the remaining 2 had no change. PVSEP tests were performed in 31 patients; 28 showed improvements and the remaining 3 had no change. 7) No deterioration or complications were observed in our patients within the follow-up period. Our data suggest OEC therapy is safe and can improve neurological functions for patients with complete chronic SCI and ameliorate their quality of life; the AMTENT most likely plays a critical role in enhancing functional recovery after cell-based neurorestorotherapy.

Keywords: Active-movement target-enhancement neurorehabilitation; Complete chronic spinal cord injury; Long-term follow-up; Neurorestorotherapy; Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs)

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Center for Neurorestoratology, Beijing Rehabilitation Center, Beijing, P.R. China

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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