• cell immortalization;
  • central nervous system axonal regeneration;
  • neuritogenesis;
  • olfactory ensheathing glia;
  • retinal ganglion neurons


Olfactory bulb ensheathing glia (OEG) have attracted special attention during the last few years because of their unique properties in promoting regeneration of adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS) components. However the molecular and cellular characteristics responsible for this capacity remain to be revealed. Such studies are presently hindered by the lack of a plentiful source of homogenous OEG. Thus the availability of immortalized OEG lines maintaining the regenerative characteristics of the primary cultures would represent an unlimited source of OEG for use not only in biochemical analyses of neuroregenerative mechanisms but also to characterize their regenerative properties in models in culture and in vivo. We have immortalized primary rat OEG using the SV40 large T antigen expressed from a constitutive cellular promotor, and report here the isolation and characterization of clonal lines. These OEG clonal lines were comparable to primary OEG and Schwann cells in the promotion of axonal regeneration of mature rat retinal ganglion neurons (RGN) but, significantly, this culture assay system more closely reflects the in vivo reparative properties of OEG on transected nerves than other assays of neuritogenesis in that it revealed OEG cells to promote the growth of a larger number of long axons than Schwann cells. Using this assay we were able to grade our OEG lines for their neuroregenerative capacity, opening the possibility of identifying molecules with correlative expression levels in these cells. Our preliminary characterization revealed that the expression level of a classical OEG marker, the p75-NGF receptor, does not correlate with neuroregenerative capacity.