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Keywords:

  • cell migration;
  • X-irradiation;
  • CNS;
  • hippocampus

Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) and Schwann cells (SCs) share many characteristics, including the ability to promote neuronal repair when transplanted directly into spinal cord lesions, but poor survival and migration when transplanted into intact adult spinal cord. Interestingly, transplanted OECs, but not SCs, migrate extensively within the X-irradiated (40 Gy) adult rat spinal cord, suggesting distinct responses to environmental cues [Lankford et al., (2008) GLIA 56:1664–1678]. In this study, GFP-expressing OECs and SCs were transplanted into juvenile rat brains (hippocampus) subjected to a moderate radiation dose (16 Gy). As in the adult spinal cord, OECs, but not SCs, migrated extensively within the irradiated juvenile rat brain. Unbiased stereology revealed that the number of OECs observed within irradiated rat brains three weeks after transplantation was as much as 20 times greater than the number of cells transplanted, and the cells distributed extensively within the brain. In conjunction with the OEC dispersion, the number of activated microglia in OEC-transplanted irradiated brains was reduced. Unlike in the intact adult spinal cord, both OECs and SCs showed some, but limited, migration within nonirradiated rat brains, suggesting that the developing brain may be a more permissive environment for cell migration than the adult CNS. These results show that OECs display unique migratory, proliferative, and microglia interaction properties as compared with SCs when transplanted into the moderately X-irradiated brain. GLIA 2013;62:52–63