Cultured olfactory ensheathing cells express nerve growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, glia cell line-derived neurotrophic factor and their receptors

Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2001 Mar 31;88(1-2):203-13. doi: 10.1016/s0169-328x(01)00044-4.


In the primary olfactory pathway axons of olfactory neurons (ONs) are accompanied by ensheathing cells (ECs) as the fibres course towards the olfactory bulb. Ensheathing cells are thought to play an important role in promoting and guiding olfactory axons to their appropriate target. In recent years, studies have shown that transplants of ECs into lesions in the central nervous system (CNS) are able to stimulate the growth of axons and in some cases restore functional connections. In an attempt to identify a possible mechanism underlying EC support for olfactory nerve growth and CNS axonal regeneration, this study investigated the production of growth factors and expression of corresponding receptors by these cells. Three techniques immunohistochemistry, enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) were used to assess growth factor expression in cultured ECs. Immunohistochemistry showed that ECs expressed nerve growth factor (NGF), brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). ELISA confirmed the intracellular presence of NGF and BDNF and showed that, compared to BDNF, about seven times as much NGF was secreted by ECs. RT-PCR analysis demonstrated expression of mRNA for NGF, BDNF, GDNF and neurturin (NTN). In addition, ECs also expressed the receptors trkB, GFRalpha-1 and GFRalpha-2. The results of the experiments show that ECs express a number of growth factors and that BDNF in particular could act both in a paracrine and autocrine manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / analysis
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Receptors
  • Nerve Growth Factor / analysis
  • Nerve Growth Factor / genetics
  • Nerve Growth Factors / analysis
  • Nerve Growth Factors / genetics*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Neurturin
  • Olfactory Pathways / chemistry
  • Olfactory Pathways / cytology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / analysis
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor, trkA / analysis
  • Receptor, trkA / genetics
  • Receptor, trkB / analysis
  • Receptor, trkB / genetics
  • Receptor, trkC / analysis
  • Receptor, trkC / genetics
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / analysis
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / genetics*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Gdnf protein, rat
  • Gfra1 protein, rat
  • Gfra2 protein, rat
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Receptors
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurturin
  • Nrtn protein, rat
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, trkA
  • Receptor, trkB
  • Receptor, trkC
  • Ret protein, Drosophila