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Repair of neural pathways by olfactory ensheathing cells

Abstract

Damage to nerve fibre pathways results in a devastating loss of function, due to the disconnection of nerve fibres from their targets. However, some recovery does occur and this has been correlated with the formation of new (albeit abnormal) connections. The view that an untapped growth potential resides in the adult CNS has led to various attempts to stimulate the repair of disconnectional injuries. A key factor in the failure of axonal regeneration in the CNS after injury is the loss of the aligned glial pathways that nerve fibres require for their elongation. Transplantation of cultured adult olfactory ensheathing cells into lesions is being investigated as a procedure to re-establish glial pathways permissive for the regeneration of severed axons.

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Figure 1: Sprouting at the cut ends of axons in the CNS.
Figure 2: Asymmetrical coating of astrocytic surfaces.
Figure 3: The pathway hypothesis of repair.
Figure 4: Olfactory ensheathing cell processes enclosing olfactory axons.
Figure 5: Closure of pathway by astrocytic scar and re-opening by OECs.

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The British Neurological Research Trust, Spinal Research, and Henry Smith Charity.

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Raisman, G., Li, Y. Repair of neural pathways by olfactory ensheathing cells. Nat Rev Neurosci 8, 312–319 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn2099

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