Spinal cord injury (SCI) typically damages the long axonal tracts of the spinal cord which results in permanent disability. However, regeneration of the injured spinal cord is approaching reality according to the advances in stem cell biology. Cell transplantation therapy holds potential to lead to recovery following SCI through some positive mechanisms. Grafted cells induce plasticity and regeneration in the injured spinal cord by promoting remyelination of damaged axons, reconstruction of neural circuits by synapse formation between host neurons and graft-derived neurons, and secreting neurotrophic factors to promote axonal elongation as well as reduce retrograde axonal degeneration. In this review, we will delineate (1) the microenvironment of the injured spinal cord that influence the plasticity and regeneration capacity after SCI, (2) a number of different kinds of cell transplantation therapies for SCI that has been extensively studied by researchers, and (3) potential mechanisms of grafted cell-induced regeneration and plasticity in the injured spinal cord.
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