Stem cell transplantation and other novel techniques for promoting recovery from spinal cord injury

Terence M. Myckatyn, Susan E. Mackinnon, John W. McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


A number of potential approaches aim to optimize functional recovery after spinal cord injury. They include minimizing the progression of secondary injury, manipulating the neuroinhibitory environment of the spinal cord, replacing lost tissue with transplanted cells or peripheral nerve grafts, remyelinating denuded axons, and maximizing the intrinsic regenerative potential of endogenous progenitor cells. We review the application of stem cell transplantation to the spinal cord, emphasizing the use of embryonic stem cells for remyelinating damaged axons. We speculate that harnessing the potential of endogenously born stem cells already present in the spinal cord represents an important therapeutic target. We also discuss the potential application of peripheral nervous system reconstruction to recovery from spinal cord injury. The principles of peripheral nerve regeneration and concepts of nerve grafting are reviewed. Particular attention is given to peripheral nerve allotransplantation for repairing extensively injured tissue when autologous donor nerve material is scarce. The potential role of nerve transfers for reconstructing the injured spinal cord, particularly the cauda equina and lumbosacral plexus, are also described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-358
Number of pages16
JournalTransplant Immunology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Cauda equine
  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Nerve allograft
  • Peripheral nerve transfers
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Transplantation


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