Selected changes in spinal cord morphology after T4 transection and olfactory ensheathing cell transplantation
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Spinal cord transection at T4 results in severe damage of the nervous tissue, with impairment of motor, sensory and autonomic functions. Transplantation of olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) has the potential to improve these functions through a number of mechanisms, which include facilitation of regeneration and neuroprotection. For cardiovascular functions, we have previously shown that OECs reduce the duration of autonomic dysreflexia, without evidence of regeneration. To further understand the mechanisms underpinning this improvement, we have studied changes in selected morphological features (cavitation, non-cavity tissue loss, morphology of sympathetic preganglionic neurons and primary afferent fibre density) in the T4-transected rat spinal cord over 9 weeks, both in control and OEC-transplanted animals. T4 transection led to a number of structural changes: gradual formation of cavities, non-cavity tissue loss, a long-term increase in soma size of sympathetic preganglionic neurons and a temporary increase in the extent of their dendritic arbours, and an increase in the density of primary afferent fibres caudal to the lesion. OECs decreased the cavitation and normalised soma size of the sympathetic preganglionic neurons below the lesion, while increasing the extent of dendritic arbours in the preganglionic neurons above the lesion. Thus the OECs may contribute to the normalisation of the dysreflexic hypertension through tissue preservation and normalisation of the morphology of the preganglionic neurons caudal to the lesion, while enhancing the input on the rostral preganglionic neurons, whose vasomotor control remains intact. We hypothesise that these changes are mediated through secretion of soluble trophic factors by the transplanted OECs.
Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical