This study demonstrates that ZnSO4induced chemical trauma results in an in situ regeneration of the olfactory epithelium which, when maintained in vitro, provides an enriched population of olfactory neurons. Therefore, the ability of the olfactory epithelium to respond to chemical trauma with increased mitotic activity can be used to increase growth of neurons in culture. Tissue obtained from normal or vehicle-treated adult mice produced few olfactory neurons, when maintained in culture, compared to cultures established from tissue following an in situ ZnSO4trauma. Maximal neuronal yields were obtained in cultures established from tissue that was removed 4-6 days following chemical trauma. The morphological appearance and the presence of cell specific intermediate filament proteins were used to classify the cell types in these olfactory epithelial cultures. Single cells and aggregates of cells which were immunopositive for keratin, but immunonegative for neurofilament protein and GFAP, were identified as epithelioid. Flattened polygonal cells immunopositive for GFAP were identified as glia. A small population of flattened cells was immunonegative for all of the antibodies used in this study. Cells that had processes were immunonegative for GFAP and keratin. Some were immunopositive for 200 kDa and 160 kDa neurofilament proteins but immunonegative for the 68 kDa neurofilament protein. A few of these cells showed positive immunoreactivity with the olfactory marker protein (OMP) antibody and most likely represented the most mature olfactory neurons in the cultures. This trauma-induced culture model using olfactory tissue from adult mice can serve as a source of CNS neurons for comparison with cultured embryonic neurons. © 1995 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights resreved.
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