Olfactory ensheathing cells, the glial cells of the olfactory nervous system, exhibit unique growth-promoting and migratory properties that make them interesting candidates for cell therapies targeting neuronal injuries such as spinal cord injury. Transplantation of olfactory cells is feasible and safe in humans; however, functional outcomes are highly variable with some studies showing dramatic improvements and some no improvements at all. We propose that the reason for this is that the identity and purity of the cells is different in each individual study. We have shown that olfactory ensheathing cells are not a uniform cell population and that individual subpopulations of OECs are present in different regions of the olfactory nervous system, with strikingly different behaviors. Furthermore, the presence of fibroblasts and other cell types in the transplant can dramatically alter the behavior of the transplanted glial cells. Thus, a thorough characterization of the differences between olfactory ensheathing cell subpopulations and how the behavior of these cells is affected by the presence of other cell types is highly warranted
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