Olfactory Ensheathing Cells (OECs) are glial cells able to secrete different neurotrophic growth factors and thus promote axonal growth, also acting as a mechanical support. In the olfactory system, during development, they drive the non-myelinated axons of the Olfactory Receptor Neurons (ORNs) towards the Olfactory Bulb (OB). Ghrelin (Ghre), a gut-brain peptide hormone, and its receptor (GHS-R 1a) are expressed in different parts of the central nervous system. In the last few years, this peptide has stimulated particular interest as results show it to be a neuroprotective factor with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic properties. Our previous studies showed that OB mitral cells express Ghre, thus being able to play an important role in regulating food behavior in response to odors. In this study, we investigated the presence of Ghre and GHS-R 1a in primary mouse OECs. The expression of both Ghre and its receptor was assessed by an immunocytochemical technique, Western Blot and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis. Our results demonstrated that OECs are able to express both Ghre and GHS-R 1a and that these proteins are detectable after extensive passages in vitro; in addition, PCR analysis further confirmed these data. Therefore, we can hypothesize that Ghre and GHS-R 1a interact with a reinforcement function, in the peripheral olfactory circuit, providing a neurotrophic support to the synaptic interaction between ORNs and mitral cells.
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