The Route by Which Intranasally Delivered Stem Cells Enter the Central Nervous System

Carlos Galeano, Zhifang Qiu, Anuja Mishra, Steven L. Farnsworth, Jacob J. Hemmi, Alvaro Moreira, Peter Edenhoffer, Peter J. Hornsby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Intranasal administration is a promising route of delivery of stem cells to the central nervous system (CNS). Reports on this mode of stem cell delivery have not yet focused on the route across the cribriform plate by which cells move from the nasal cavity into the CNS. In the current experiments, human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were isolated from Wharton’s jelly of umbilical cords and were labeled with extremely bright quantum dots (QDs) in order to track the cells efficiently. At 2 h after intranasal delivery in immunodeficient mice, the labeled cells were found under the olfactory epithelium, crossing the cribriform plate adjacent to the fila olfactoria, and associated with the meninges of the olfactory bulb. At all times, the cells were separate from actual nerve tracts; this location is consistent with them being in the subarachnoid space (SAS) and its extensions through the cribriform plate into the nasal mucosa. In their location under the olfactory epithelium, they appear to be within an expansion of a potential space adjacent to the turbinate bone periosteum. Therefore, intranasally administered stem cells appear to cross the olfactory epithelium, enter a space adjacent to the periosteum of the turbinate bones, and then enter the SAS via its extensions adjacent to the fila olfactoria as they cross the cribriform plate. These observations should enhance understanding of the mode by which stem cells can reach the CNS from the nasal cavity and may guide future experiments on making intranasal delivery of stem cells efficient and reproducible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-514
Number of pages14
JournalCell Transplantation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Wharton’s jelly
  • central nervous system
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • nanoparticles/nanotechnology
  • olfactory mucosa
  • xenotransplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation


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