The present study uniquely combines olfactory ensheathing glia (OEG) implantation with ex vivo adenoviral (AdV) vector-based neurotrophin gene therapy in an attempt to enhance regeneration after cervical spinal cord injury. Primary OEG were transduced with AdV vectors encoding rat brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), or bacterial marker protein beta-galactosidase ( LacZ) and subsequently implanted into adult Fischer rats directly after unilateral transection of the dorsolateral funiculus. Implanted animals received a total of 2 x 10(5) OEG that were subjected to transduction with neurotrophin- encoding AdV vector, AdV-LacZ, or no vector, respectively. At 4 months after injury, lesion volumes were smaller in all OEG implanted rats and significantly reduced in size after implantation of neurotrophin- encoding AdV vector-transduced OEG. All OEG grafts were filled with neurofilament-positive axons, and AdV vector-mediated expression of BDNF by implanted cells significantly enhanced regenerative sprouting of the rubrospinal tract. Behavioral analysis revealed that OEG-implanted rats displayed better locomotion during horizontal rope walking than unimplanted lesioned controls. Recovery of hind limb function was also improved after implantation of OEG that were transduced with a BDNF- or NT-3-encoding AdV vector. Hind limb performance during horizontal rope locomotion did directly correlate with lesion size, suggesting that neuroprotective effects of OEG implants contributed to the level of functional recovery. Thus, our results demonstrate that genetic engineering of OEG not only resulted in a cell that was more effective in promoting axonal outgrowth but could also lead to enhanced recovery after injury, possibly by sparing of spinal tissue.
|Journal||Journal of Neuroscience|
|Publication status||Published - 2003|