Schwann cell (SC) cultures from experimental animals and human donors can be prepared using nearly any type of nerve at any stage of maturation to render stage- and patient-specific populations. Methods to isolate, purify, expand in number, and differentiate SCs from adult, postnatal and embryonic sources are efficient and reproducible as these have resulted from accumulated refinements introduced over many decades of work. Albeit some exceptions, SCs can be passaged extensively while maintaining their normal proliferation and differentiation controls. Due to their lineage commitment and strong resistance to tumorigenic transformation, SCs are safe for use in therapeutic approaches in the peripheral and central nervous systems. This review summarizes the evolution of work that led to the robust technologies used today in SC culturing along with the main features of the primary and expanded SCs that make them irreplaceable models to understand SC biology in health and disease. Traditional and emerging approaches in SC culture are discussed in light of their prospective applications. Lastly, some basic assumptions in vitro SC models are identified in an attempt to uncover the combined value of old and new trends in culture protocols and the cellular products that are derived.
- cell transplantation
- explant cultures
- primary Schwann cell cultures