A Comparative Analysis of the Neurochemical Properties of Olfactory Ensheathing Cells and their Biocompatibility in Various Biomatrices

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Rawji, Khalil S.
GFAP , Hydrogel , Mammalian , Biomarkers , Olfactory , Spinal Cord Injury
Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) are the chief glial population of the mammalian olfactory nervous system and are thought to be responsible for the successful directional growth of new olfactory axons throughout the life of adult mammals. Due to this unique property, OECs have been targeted as a potential cellular transplantation therapy for spinal cord injury. In order to effectively isolate OECs for intraspinal transplantation, more knowledge must be gained on their phenotypic properties. We investigated the neurochemical features of OECs in a variety of mammalian species (including hamsters, rabbits, monkeys, mice, and pigs) using three biomarkers: glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), S100β, and α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA). In addition, we tested the ability of a few biomatrices to sustain and promote OEC growth and survival in vitro. The rationale for using biomatrices is to provide a supportive environment for glial and axonal growth in the spinal lesion. Here, we found that mucosal and bulbar OECs from all five of the aforementioned mammalian species express S100β. Expression of GFAP, however, was not consistent across the five species. Both mucosal and bulbar OECs of monkeys express αSMA; only bulbar OECs of hamsters and only mucosal OECs of rabbits express αSMA as well. Though αSMA immunostaining was not detected in the OECs of adult mice, in adult mutant mice lacking αSMA expression, OECs displayed perturbed ultrastructural morphology. None of the biomatrices used (methacrylated glycol chitosan, arginine-glycine-aspartic acid – grafted methacrylated glycol chitosan, and agarose) were able to promote OEC proliferation. Isolated strips of rodent olfactory lamina propria (the deep connective tissue layer in the olfactory mucosa containing primary sensory axons and OECs) showed sustained growth when cultured for 10 days. In sum, these findings highlight the following points: the efficacy of S100β and αSMA as biomarkers for mammalian OECs in vivo; the potential for isolated strips of lamina propria to provide a natural, supportive environment for OECs during intraspinal transplantation; the failure of methacrylated glycol chitosan and its derivatives, as well as agarose, to promote OEC proliferation.
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