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DURING recent years, adult dogs have emerged as an important model to study axonal growth and regeneration as the basis to devise novel therapeutic strategies for adult nervous system injury (Jeffery and others 2011, Spitzbarth and others 2011). It was shown that the growth-promoting canine olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) are capable of remyelination (Smith and others 2002) and that the autologous transplantation of these cells is a reliable and safe clinical procedure (Jeffery and others 2006). However, several investigators revealed species-specific properties of canine glia, distinct from rodents but closely related to the human system (Techangamsuwan and others 2008, Omar and others 2011). These observations added further weight to the canine system as a translational model for human studies (Wewetzer and others 2011) and made it clear that direct extrapolation of rodent data to the canine system is not feasible.
Adult dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons as a versatile tool to study neuron-glia interactions (Päiväläinen and others 2008) were initially isolated from embryonic chick and neonatal rodents (Barbin and others 1984) and later on from adult rats (Grothe and Unsicker 1987). Since protocols suitable for isolation of adult canine DRG neurons have not been made available so far, chimeric assays were established combining canine cells with fetal rat neurons (Kamishina and others 2009). To overcome these limitations and to set up canine neuron-glia cocultures, the authors isolated sensory neurons from the adult canine DRG. They can be used to study growth factor requirements of DRG neurons as well as their interaction with glial cells relevant to the development of new therapeutic …