The olfactory ensheathing cell is a specialized glial cell that assists in growth of the axons of the olfactory sensory neurons as they are generated and regenerated throughout adult life. There is increasing evidence in animal models that transplantation of olfactory ensheathing cell promotes recovery after transplantation into the injured spinal cord. Olfactory ensheathing cell transplants have promoted regrowth of axons across the injury site and led to recovery of functional behaviours including climbing, walking, reaching, and breathing. Most evidence comes from olfactory ensheathing cells derived from the olfactory bulb. This is an impractical site for human biopsy compared to the easy accessibility of olfactory ensheathing cells from the olfactory mucosa in the nose. Our experiments demonstrated that nasal olfactory ensheathing cells led to functional improvement after complete spinal cord transaction in rat. After devising methods to grow human olfactory ensheathing cells from nasal biopsy we recently initiated a Phase I clinical trial of transplantation into the human paraplegic spinal cord.
2005 by The Keio Journal of Medicine