Transplant therapy: Recovery of function after spinal cord injury

Edward A. Zompa, Lisa D. Cain, Alex W. Everhart, Mary Pat Moyer, Claire E. Hulsebosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Spinal cord injuries (SCI) result in devastating loss of function and altered sensation. Presently, victims of SCI have few remedies for the loss of motor function and the altered sensation often experienced subsequent to the injury. A goal in SCI research is to improve function in both acute and chronic injuries. Among the most successful interventions is the utilization of transplanted tissues toward improved recovery. The theory is that the transplanted tissue could (1) bridge the spinal lesion and provide chemical and/or mechanical guidance for host neurons to grow across the lesion, (2) bridge the spinal lesion and provide additional cellular elements to repair the damaged circuitry, (3) provide factors that would rescue neurons that would otherwise die and/or modulate neural circuits to improve function. A variety of tissues and cells have been added to the adult mammalian spinal cord to encourage restoration of function. These include Schwann cells, motor neurons, dorsal root ganglia, adrenal tissue, hybridomas, peripheral nerves, and fetal spinal cord (FSC) tissue en bloc or as disassociated cells. It is postulated that these tissues would rescue or replace injured adult neurons, which would then integrate or promote the regeneration of the spinal cord circuitry and restore function. In some instances, host-appropriate circuitry is supplied by the transplant and functional improvement is demonstrated. In this presentation, specific examples of recent work with transplanted tissue and cells that demonstrate improved behavioral outcome are presented. New recent work describing the in vitro propagation and characterization of human fetal spinal cord multipotential progenitor cells are also described in the context of a potential resource for transplantable cells. Additionally, data from transplantation experiments of human FSC cells into nonimmuno- suppressed rat spinal cord are described, and the resultant improvements in behavioral outcome reported. Lastly, directions for future SCI research are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-506
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavior
  • CNS
  • Human fetal spinal cord cells
  • Human fetal tissue
  • Human progenitor cells
  • Review
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Transplants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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