Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

OECs transplantation results in neuropathic pain associated with BDNF regulating ERK activity in rats following cord hemisection

Bing-Chen Lang12, Zhuo Zhang4, Long-Yun Lv3, Jin Liu2, Ting-Yong Wang3, Ling-Hui Yang2, Da-Qing Liao2, Wen-Sheng Zhang2* and Ting-Hua Wang235*

Author Affiliations

1 Regenerative Medicine Research Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China

2 Laboratory of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine, Translational Neuroscience Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan 610041, P.R. China

3 Institution of Neuroscience, Kunming Medical College, Kunming, China

4 Department of Neurology, Tangdu Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China

5 Institution of Neurological Disease, Translational Neuroscience Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan 610041, P.R. China

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BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:80  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-80

Published: 2 August 2013



The olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) derived from olfactory bulb (OB) may improve motor function after transplantation in injured spinal cord. However, the effects of OEC transplantation on sensory function have not been reported yet. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether OEC transplantation could affect the sensory function and to analyze the underlying mechanism.


OEC transplantation into the hemisected spinal cords can result in hyperalgesia, indicated by radiant and mechanical stimuli towards the plantar surface in rats. This could be associated with upregulation of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), indicated by RT-PCR. Immunofluorecent staining showed that BDNF was mainly located in the neurons of the laminas I and II of the dorsal horn. Moreover, a notable upregulation on the level of p-ERK (phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase), the downstream molecule of BDNF, was detected by using Western Blot. These findings indicate that the increased BDNF level associated with the p-ERK was possibly involved in neuropathic pain in hemisected spinal cord subjected to OEC transplantation.


The transplantation of OECs may induce the noticeable pain hypersensitivity in rats after hemisected spinal cord injury, and the possible mechanism may be associated with the phosphorylation of ERK and the activated BDNF overexpression.

Olfactory ensheathing cells; Spinal cord injury; Hemisection; Cell transplantation; Rat; p-ERK; BDNF; Hyperalgesia