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Stem Cells Dev. 2010 Jun;19(6):853-66. doi: 10.1089/scd.2009.0267.

The human nose harbors a niche of olfactory ectomesenchymal stem cells displaying neurogenic and osteogenic properties.

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  • 1Inserm ESPRI-EA3855, Université François Rabelais, Faculté de Médecine, Tours, France.


We previously identified multipotent stem cells within the lamina propria of the human olfactory mucosa, located in the nasal cavity. We also demonstrated that this cell type differentiates into neural cells and improves locomotor behavior after transplantation in a rat model of Parkinson's disease. Yet, next to nothing is known about their specific stemness characteristics. We therefore devised a study aiming to compare olfactory lamina propria stem cells from 4 individuals to bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells from 4 age- and gender-matched individuals. Using pangenomic microarrays and immunostaining with 34 cell surface marker antibodies, we show here that olfactory stem cells are closely related to bone marrow stem cells. However, olfactory stem cells also exhibit singular traits. By means of techniques such as proliferation assay, cDNA microarrays, RT-PCR, in vitro and in vivo differentiation, we report that when compared to bone marrow stem cells, olfactory stem cells display (1) a high proliferation rate; (2) a propensity to differentiate into osseous cells; and (3) a disinclination to give rise to chondrocytes and adipocytes. Since peripheral olfactory stem cells originate from a neural crest-derived tissue and, as shown here, exhibit an increased expression of neural cell-related genes, we propose to name them olfactory ectomesenchymal stem cells (OE-MSC). Further studies are now required to corroborate the therapeutic potential of OE-MSCs in animal models of bone and brain diseases.

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