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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 235195, 20 pages
Review Article

Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells in Spinal Cord Injury: A Review and Update

Department of Surgery, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam, Hong Kong

Received 12 March 2015; Revised 19 June 2015; Accepted 25 June 2015

Academic Editor: Markus Kipp

Copyright © 2015 Ning Li and Gilberto K. K. Leung. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition to individuals, families, and society. Oligodendrocyte loss and demyelination contribute as major pathological processes of secondary damages after injury. Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), a subpopulation that accounts for 5 to 8% of cells within the central nervous system, are potential sources of oligodendrocyte replacement after SCI. OPCs react rapidly to injuries, proliferate at a high rate, and can differentiate into myelinating oligodendrocytes. However, posttraumatic endogenous remyelination is rarely complete, and a better understanding of OPCs’ characteristics and their manipulations is critical to the development of novel therapies. In this review, we summarize known characteristics of OPCs and relevant regulative factors in both health and demyelinating disorders including SCI. More importantly, we highlight current evidence on post-SCI OPCs transplantation as a potential treatment option as well as the impediments against regeneration. Our aim is to shed lights on important knowledge gaps and to provoke thoughts for further researches and the development of therapeutic strategies.