Purified adult ensheathing glia fail to myelinate axons under culture conditions that enable Schwann cells to form myelin

Giles W. Plant, Paul F. Currier, Ernesto P. Cuervo, Margaret L. Bates, Yelena Pressman, Mary Bartlett Bunge, Patrick M. Wood

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101 Scopus citations


Several studies have suggested that olfactory ensheathing glia (EG) can form Schwann cell (SC)-like myelin. Because of possible misinterpretation attributable to contaminating SCs, the capacity of EG to produce myelin needs to be explored further. Therefore, we compared the abilities of adult EG, purified by immunopanning with p75 antibody, and adult SCs to produce myelin when cocultured with purified dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRGNs) in serum-free and serum-containing media. In both media formulations, the number of myelin sheaths in SC/DRGN cultures was far higher than in EG/DRGN cultures; the number of sheaths in EG/DRGN cultures was equal to that in purified DRGN cultures without added cells. The latter result demonstrates that myelination by a few SCs remaining in purified DRGN cultures may occur, suggesting that myelin in EG/DRGN cultures could be SC myelin. Striking differences in the relationship of EG and SC processes to axons were observed. Whereas SCs displayed relatively short, thick processes that engulfed axons in small bundles or in individual cytoplasmic furrows and segregated larger axons into one-to-one relationships, EG extended flattened sheets that partitioned or only partially encircled fascicles of axons, sometimes spanning the entire culture. SCs exhibited behavior typical of SCs in peripheral nerves, whereas EG exhibited characteristics resembling those of EG in olfactory nerves. In sum, p75-selected EG from adult animals did not exhibit an SC-like relationship to axons and did not form myelin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6083-6091
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2002


  • Ascorbate
  • Glial plasticity
  • Myelination
  • Neuron-glia coculture
  • Olfactory bulb
  • Olfactory ensheathing glia
  • Schwann cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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