A unique method for the isolation of nasal olfactory stem cells in living rats


  • Stamegna Jean-Claude
  • Girard Stéphane D.
  • Veron Antoine
  • Sicard Gilles
  • Khrestchatisky Michel
  • Feron François
  • Roman François S.


  • Animals
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Humans
  • Cells
  • Cultured
  • Biopsy
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Separation
  • Olfactory Mucosa
  • Sprague-Dawley
  • Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Stem Cells


Stem cells are attractive tools to develop new therapeutic strategies for a variety of disorders. While ethical and technical issues, associated with embryonic, fetal and neural stem cells, limit the translation to clinical applications, the nasal stem cells identified in the human olfactory mucosa stand as a promising candidate for stem cell-based therapies. Located in the back of the nose, this multipotent stem cell type is readily accessible in humans, a feature that makes these cells highly suitable for the development of autologous cell-based therapies. However, preclinical studies based on autologous transplantation of rodent olfactory stem cells are impeded because of the narrow opening of the nasal cavity. In this study, we report the development of a unique method permitting to quickly and safely biopsy olfactory mucosa in rats. Using this newly developed technique, rat stem cells expressing the stem cell marker Nestin were successfully isolated without requiring the sacrifice of the donor animal. As an evidence of the self-renewal capacity of the isolated cells, several millions of rat cells were amplified from a single biopsy within four weeks. Using an olfactory discrimination test, we additionally showed that this novel biopsy method does not affect the sense of smell and the learning and memory abilities of the operated animals. This study describes for the first time a methodology allowing the derivation of rat nasal cells in a way that is suitable for studying the effects of autologous transplantation of any cell type present in the olfactory mucosa in a wide variety of rat models.

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