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Open Access Transplantation of Autologous Olfactory Ensheathing Cells in Complete Human Spinal Cord Injury

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Numerous studies in animals have shown the unique property of olfactory ensheathing cells to stimulate regeneration of lesioned axons in the spinal cord. In a Phase I clinical trial, we assessed the safety and feasibility of transplantation of autologous mucosal olfactory ensheathing cells and olfactory nerve fibroblasts in patients with complete spinal cord injury. Six patients with chronic thoracic paraplegia (American Spinal Injury Association class A-ASIA A) were enrolled for the study. Three patients were operated, and three served as a control group. The trial protocol consisted of pre- and postoperative neurorehabilitation, olfactory mucosal biopsy, culture of olfactory ensheathing cells, and intraspinal cell grafting. Patient’s clinical state was evaluated by clinical, neurophysiological, and radiological tests. There were no adverse findings related to olfactory mucosa biopsy or transplantation of olfactory ensheathing cells at 1 year after surgery. There was no evidence of neurological deterioration, neuropathic pain, neuroinfection, or tumorigenesis. In one cell-grafted patient, an asymptomatic syringomyelia was observed. Neurological improvement was observed only in transplant recipients. The first two operated patients improved from ASIA A to ASIA C and ASIA B. Diffusion tensor imaging showed restitution of continuity of some white matter tracts throughout the focus of spinal cord injury in these patients. The third operated patient, although remaining ASIA A, showed improved motor and sensory function of the first spinal cords segments below the level of injury. Neurophysiological examinations showed improvement in spinal cord transmission and activity of lower extremity muscles in surgically treated patients but not in patients receiving only neurorehabilitation. Observations at 1 year indicate that the obtaining, culture, and intraspinal transplantation of autologous olfactory ensheathing cells were safe and feasible. The significance of the neurological improvement in the transplant recipients and the extent to which the cell transplants contributed to it will require larger numbers of patients.

Keywords: Human; Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs); Spinal cord injury (SCI); Transplantation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3727/096368912X663532

Affiliations: Department of Neurosurgery, Wroclaw Medical University, Wroclaw, Poland

Publication date: September 11, 2013

More about this publication?
  • 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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