A horse’s nose is an easy and promising source of stem cells, say researchers

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Mesenchymal stem cells harvested from the nose linings of a range of mammals, including horses, appear to be good candidates for use in regenerative therapies, the findings of a study suggest.

French researchers say the cells can be easily collected and amplified to get tens of million of cells in a few weeks.

Mesenchymal stem cells are capable of differentiating into a variety of cell types, including those for bones, cartilage, muscles, and fat.

They are used in various therapies around the world to aid in the repair and regeneration of damaged tissue. In horses, the particular focus has been on musculoskeletal injury repair, particularly in joints.

However, the development of such therapies remains a scientific challenge, and their use in human medicine is currently limited to a small number of applications.

Stéphane Girard and his colleagues, writing in the journal BMC Veterinary Research, said stem cells sourced from the nose – olfactory ecto-mesenchymal stem cells – have been described as promising candidates to treat damaged tissues thanks to their multipotency, high proliferation rate and the lack of major ethical limitations.

They are easily accessible in the nasal cavity of most mammals and appear highly suited for therapeutic use.

However, their clinical use in humans and animals is limited due to a lack of pre-clinical studies on their use and because no well-established methods currently exist to cultivate them.

The study team set out to evaluate the feasibility of collecting, purifying and amplifying the cells from eight different mammals – mice, rats, rabbits, sheep, dogs, horses, the gray mouse lemur and macaque.

Biopsies were successfully obtained from all the animals without requiring the sacrifice of the donor, except mice.

Cell populations were rapidly generated from the collected samples, and they showed similar stem-cell features to their human counterparts.

For unknown reasons, mouse olfactory stem cells were the most difficult to grow and amplify and were not fully evaluated.

Discussing their findings, the study team noted that stem cells originating from bone marrow or adipose tissue (fat) were the most extensively studied.

“A recent study demonstrated the advantages but also the limitations associated with these particular types of stem cells.

“Although bone marrow is known for containing a high number of mesenchymal stem cells, the collection procedure is complex, painful and may induce a non-negligible risk of infection or hemorrhage.

“Comparatively, collection of adipose tissue is less invasive and provides mesenchymal stem cells displaying similar properties. However, the quality of fat-derived stem cells seems subject specific, which limit their interest for cellular therapies.”

Nasal stem cells, they said, were plentiful and can be grown rapidly.

In conclusion, they said their work confirmed that stem cells from the nasal lining can be easily harvested from animals and processed for therapeutic use in the same animal.

Their described techniques of biopsy and culture can be used to obtain millions of nasal stem cells in a short time, they said.

“Their outstanding ability to proliferate and stemness characteristics, associated with abilities to generate cells from different lineages, make these multipotent stem cells suitable tools for regenerative medicine.”

Their study, they said, paved the way for development of research on a wide variety of models of tissue injuries and clinical trials to evaluate the therapeutic benefit of the nose-derived cells.

“For domestic and/or companion animals, the development of such therapies shows great promise as it will positively impact the lives of veterinary patients, while promoting human applications.”

The researchers in the study are affiliated with a range of French institutions. They are Antoine Veron, Cécile Bienboire-Frosini, François Feron, Elisa Codecasa, Arnaud Deveze, Dany Royer, Paul Watelet, Pietro Asproni, Kevin Sadelli, Camille Chabaud, Jean-claude Stamegna, Joël Fagot, Michel Khrestchatisky, Alessandro Cozzi, François Roman, Patrick Pageat, Manuel Mengoli and Stéphane Girard.

Isolation and characterization of olfactory ecto-mesenchymal stem cells from eight mammalian genera
Antoine D. Veron, Cécile Bienboire-Frosini, François Feron, Elisa Codecasa, Arnaud Deveze, Dany Royer, Paul Watelet, Pietro Asproni, Kevin Sadelli, Camille Chabaud, Jean-claude Stamegna, Joël Fagot, Michel Khrestchatisky, Alessandro Cozzi, François S. Roman, Patrick Pageat, Manuel Mengoli and Stéphane D. Girard
BMC Veterinary Research 2018 14:17 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-018-1342-2

The study, published under a Creative Commons License, can be read here

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