Impact of dual cell co-culture and cell-conditioned media on yield and function of a human olfactory cell line for regenerative medicine

Rachael Wood, Pelin Durali, Ivan Wall*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) are a promising candidate therapy for neuronal tissue repair. However, appropriate priming conditions to drive a regenerative phenotype are yet to be determined. We first assessed the effect of using a human fibroblast feeder layer and fibroblast conditioned media on primary rat olfactory mucosal cells (OMCs). We found that OMCs cultured on fibroblast feeders had greater expression of the key OEC marker p75NTR (25.1 ± 10.7 cells/mm2) compared with OMCs cultured on laminin (4.0 ± 0.8 cells/mm2, p = 0.001). However, the addition of fibroblast-conditioned media (CM) resulted in a significant increase in Thy1.1 (45.9 ± 9.0 cells/mm2 versus 12.5 ± 2.5 cells/mm2 on laminin, p = 0.006), an undesirable cell marker as it is regarded to be a marker of contaminating fibroblasts. A direct comparison between human feeders and GMP cell line Ms3T3 was then undertaken. Ms3T3 cells supported similar p75NTR levels (10.7 ± 5.3 cells/mm2) with significantly reduced Thy1.1 expression (4.8 ± 2.1 cells/mm2). Ms3T3 cells were used as feeder layers for human OECs to determine whether observations made in the rat model were conserved. Examination of the OEC phenotype (S100β expression and neurite outgrowth from NG108-15 cells) revealed that co-culture with fibroblast feeders had a negative effect on human OECs, contrary to observations of rat OECs. CM negatively affected rat and human OECs equally. When the best and worst conditions in terms of supporting S100β expression were used in NG108-15 neuron co-cultures, those with the highest S100β expression resulted in longer and more numerous neurites (22.8 ± 2.4 μm neurite length/neuron for laminin) compared with the lowest S100β expression (17.9 ± 1.1 μm for Ms3T3 feeders with CM). In conclusion, this work revealed that neither dual co-culture nor fibroblast-conditioned media support the regenerative OEC phenotype. In our case, a preliminary rat model was not predictive of human cell responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access
article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
(CC BY) license (

This research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC;
Grant Number BB/K011154/1), the Bioprocessing Research Industry Club (BRIC), the UCL Overseas Research
Scholarship, and the New Zealand Federation for Graduate Women (NZFGW).


  • Cell therapies
  • Neural regeneration
  • Olfactory ensheathing cells
  • Spinal cord injury


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