Phenotypic Modulation and Neuroprotective Effects of Olfactory Ensheathing Cells: a Promising Tool for Cell Therapy

Rosalia Pellitteri, Lidia Cova, Damiano Zaccheo, Vincenzo Silani, Patrizia Bossolasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Olfactory Ensheathing Cells (OECs), exhibiting phenotypic characteristics of both astrocytes and Schwann Cells, show peculiar plasticity. In vitro, OECs promote axonal growth, while in vivo they promote remyelination of damaged axons. We decided to further investigate OEC potential for regeneration and functional recovery of the damaged Central Nervous System (CNS). To study OEC antigen modulation, OECs prepared from postnatal mouse olfactory bulbs were grown in different culture conditions: standard or serum-free media with/without Growth Factors (GFs) and analyzed for different neural specific markers. OEC functional characterizations were also achieved. Resistance of OECs to the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) was analyzed by evaluating apoptosis and death. OEC neuroprotective properties were investigated by in vitro co-cultures or by addition of OEC conditioned medium to the neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells exposed to 6-OHDA. We observed: 1) modification of OEC morphology, reduced cell survival and marker expression in serum-free medium; 2) GF addition to serum-free medium condition influenced positively survival and restored basal marker expression; 3) no OEC apoptosis after a prolonged exposition to 6-OHDA; 4) a clear OEC neuroprotective tendency, albeit non statistically significant, on 6-OHDA treated SH-SY5Y cells. These peculiar properties of OECs might render them potential clinical agents able to support injured CNS.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStem Cell Reviews and Reports
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Nov 9 2015


  • Growth factors
  • Immunocytochemistry, flow cytometry
  • Neuroprotection
  • Neurotoxin, cell therapy
  • Olfactory glia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Cell Biology


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