Research Article| Volume 367, P311-318, August 15, 2016

Canine olfactory ensheathing cells from the olfactory mucosa can be engineered to produce active chondroitinase ABC


      • Olfactory ensheathing cells from the mucosa can be genetically modified to secrete chondroitinase ABC.
      • Lentiviral transduction of olfactory ensheathing cells did not change their morphology or cell marker expression (p75NGF).
      • Chondroitinase ABC production was confirmed using the Morgan-Elson assay and Western blot.


      A multitude of factors must be overcome following spinal cord injury (SCI) in order to achieve clinical improvement in patients. It is thought that by combining promising therapies these diverse factors could be combatted with the aim of producing an overall improvement in function. Chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPGs) present in the glial scar that forms following SCI present a significant block to axon regeneration. Digestion of CSPGs by chondroitinase ABC (ChABC) leads to axon regeneration, neuronal plasticity and functional improvement in preclinical models of SCI. However, the enzyme activity decays at body temperature within 24–72 h, limiting the translational potential of ChABC as a therapy. Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) have shown huge promise as a cell transplant therapy in SCI. Their beneficial effects have been demonstrated in multiple small animal SCI models as well as in naturally occurring SCI in canine patients. In the present study, we have genetically modified canine OECs from the mucosa to constitutively produce enzymatically active ChABC. We have developed a lentiviral vector that can deliver a mammalian modified version of the ChABC gene to mammalian cells, including OECs. Enzyme production was quantified using the Morgan-Elson assay that detects the breakdown products of CSPG digestion in cell supernatants. We confirmed our findings by immunolabelling cell supernatant samples using Western blotting. OECs normal cell function was unaffected by genetic modification as demonstrated by normal microscopic morphology and the presence of the low affinity neurotrophin receptor (p75NGF) following viral transduction. We have developed the means to allow production of active ChABC in combination with a promising cell transplant therapy for SCI repair.


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