Differing phagocytic capacities of accessory and main olfactory ensheathing cells and the implication for olfactory glia transplantation therapies

Lynnmaria Nazareth, Johana Tello Velasquez, Katie E. Lineburg, Fatemeh Chehrehasa, James A. St John, Jenny A K Ekberg

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The rodent olfactory systems comprise the main olfactory system for the detection of odours and the accessory olfactory system which detects pheromones. In both systems, olfactory axon fascicles are ensheathed by olfactory glia, termed olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), which are crucial for the growth and maintenance of the olfactory nerve. The growth-promoting and phagocytic characteristics of OECs make them potential candidates for neural repair therapies such as transplantation to repair the injured spinal cord. However, transplanting mixed populations of glia with unknown properties may lead to variations in outcomes for neural repair. As the phagocytic capacity of the accessory OECs has not yet been determined, we compared the phagocytic capacity of accessory and main OECs in vivo and in vitro. In normal healthy animals, the accessory OECs accumulated considerably less axon debris than main OECs in vivo. Analysis of freshly dissected OECs showed that accessory OECs contained 20% less fluorescent axon debris than main OECs. However, when assayed in vitro with exogenous axon debris added to the culture, the accessory OECs phagocytosed almost 20% more debris than main OECs. After surgical removal of one olfactory bulb which induced the degradation of main and accessory olfactory sensory axons, the accessory OECs responded by phagocytosing the axon debris. We conclude that while accessory OECs have the capacity to phagocytose axon debris, there are distinct differences in their phagocytic capacity compared to main OECs. These distinct differences may be of importance when preparing OECs for neural transplant repair therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-101
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Neurosciences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


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