There is a pressing need for patient-derived cell models of brain diseases that are relevant and robust enough to produce the large quantities of cells required for molecular and functional analyses. We describe here a new cell model based on patient-derived cells from the human olfactory mucosa, the organ of smell, which regenerates throughout life from neural stem cells. Olfactory mucosa biopsies were obtained from healthy controls and patients with either schizophrenia, a neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorder, or Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease. Biopsies were dissociated and grown as neurospheres in defined medium. Neurosphere-derived cell lines were grown in serum-containing medium as adherent monolayers and stored frozen. By comparing 42 patient and control cell lines we demonstrated significant disease-specific alterations in gene expression, protein expression and cell function, including dysregulated neurodevelopmental pathways in schizophrenia and dysregulated mitochondrial function, oxidative stress and xenobiotic metabolism in Parkinson’s disease. The study has identified new candidate genes and cell pathways for future investigation. Fibroblasts from schizophrenia patients did not show these differences. Olfactory neurosphere-derived cells have many advantages over embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells as models for brain diseases. They do not require genetic reprogramming and they can be obtained from adults with complex genetic diseases. They will be useful for understanding disease aetiology, for diagnostics and for drug discovery.
↵* These authors contributed equally to this work
↵‡ Present address: Neurobiologie des Interactions Cellulaires et Neurophysiopathologie (CNRS UMR 6184), Université de la Méditerranée (Aix-Marseille II), Faculté de Médecine Nord, Institut Fédératif de Recherche Jean Roche (IFR11), Marseille, France
↵§ Present address: University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry, Translational Research Labs, 125 South 31st Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3403, USA
↵¶ Present address: Institutt for Kirurgisk Forskning, Sognsvannsveien 20, Rikshospitalet HF 0027 Oslo, Norway