Calponin is expressed by fibroblasts and meningeal cells but not olfactory ensheathing cells in the adult peripheral olfactory system.
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Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), the principal glial cells of the peripheral olfactory system, have many phenotypic similarities with Schwann cells of the peripheral nervous system. This makes reliably distinguishing these two cells types difficult, especially following transplantation into areas of injury in the central nervous system. In an attempt to identify markers by which these two cells types can be distinguished, a recent proteomic analysis of fetal OECs and adult Schwann cells identified the actin-binding protein calponin as a potential marker expressed by OECs but not Schwann cells. Since many studies designed with the translational goal of autologous transplantation in mind have used adult OECs, this study examined the expression of calponin by adult OECs, both in vivo within the peripheral olfactory system and in vitro. Calponin colocalized with strongly fibronectin positive fibroblasts in the olfactory mucosa (OM) and meningeal cells in the olfactory bulb (OB) but not with S100beta or neuropeptide-Y positive OECs. In tissue culture, calponin was strongly expressed by fibronectin-expressing fibroblasts from OM, sciatic nerve and skin and by meningeal cells from the OB, but not by p75(NTR)- and S100beta-expressing OECs. These data, supported by Western blotting, indicate that calponin can not be used to distinguish adult OECs and Schwann cells.