Olfactory ensheathing glia (OEG) are distinct from other glia in their developmental origin, presence in both the peripheral and central nervous systems, and highly restricted location. OEG are present only in the olfactory lamina propria, olfactory nerve, and the outer two layers of the olfactory bulb, where they envelop bundles of olfactory sensory neuron axons in a manner distinct from myelination. Because of their unique properties and their association with the continually generated olfactory sensory neurons, OEG have attracted interest for their potential capacity to support axonal regeneration, for example, after spinal cord injury. However, study of the properties and function of OEG has been hampered by a paucity of neurochemical markers with which to identify and distinguish them definitively from other types of glia. Here we provide evidence through anatomical colocalization studies that OEG express the water channel aquaporin 1 (AQP1), both in vivo and in vitro. We propose that AQP1 expression represents an important distinguishing characteristic of OEG, which may impart unique function to these glia.
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