AbstractOne of the therapeutic approaches for the treatment of the autoimmune demyelinating disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) is bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cell (hBM-MSCs) transplantation. However, given their capacity to enhance myelination in vitro, we hypothesised that human olfactory mucosa-derived MSCs (hOM-MSCs) may possess additional properties suitable for CNS repair. Herein, we have examined the efficacy of hOM-MSCs versus hBM-MSCs using the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model. Both MSC types ameliorated disease, if delivered during the initial onset of symptomatic disease. Yet, only hOM-MSCs improved disease outcome if administered during established disease when animals had severe neurological deficits. Histological analysis of spinal cord lesions revealed hOM-MSC transplantation reduced blood–brain barrier disruption and inflammatory cell recruitment and enhanced axonal survival. At early time points post-hOM-MSC treatment, animals had reduced levels of circulating IL-16, which was reflected in both the ability of immune cells to secrete IL-16 and the level of IL-16 in spinal cord inflammatory lesions. Further in vitro investigation revealed an inhibitory role for IL-16 on oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination. Moreover, the availability of bioactive IL-16 after demyelination was reduced in the presence of hOM-MSCs. Combined, our data suggests that human hOM-MSCs may have therapeutic benefit in the treatment of MS via an IL-16-mediated pathway, especially if administered during active demyelination and inflammation.