Effects of sensory deprivation on the developing mouse olfactory system: A light and electron microscopic, morphometric analysis

T. E. Benson, D. K. Ryugo, J. W. Hinds

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145 Scopus citations


Closure of the nostril by electrocauterization on postnatal day (PN) 1 or 2 was used to study effects of olfactory deprivation on developing olfactory epithelium (OE) and bulb (OB) in CD-1 mice. No damage was observed in OE sections 1 or 3 days after closure, and at PN 30 no difference was found in the number of OE receptors between closed and open sides. Odor deprivation and a decrease in functional activity in experimental bulbs was evident from deoxyglucose autoradiographs at PN 21 and PN 30. AT PN 30 deprived bulbs appeared smaller than nondeprived bulbs. Nissl stains revealed normal cytoarchitecture, but a protargol stain demonstrated fewer intraglomerular dendrites in deprived bulbs. At PN 30, volumes of deprived bulbs were 26% smaller than nondeprived bulbs. The volume of each bulbar lamina was 13 to 35% smaller than the comparable nondeprived lamina except for the ventricular/subependymal zone which was not significantly different between bulbs. Volumes of bulbs contralateral to the closed naris and the volumes of their laminae were not significantly different from control bulbs, suggesting no hypertrophy of nondeprived laminae. Deprivation did not affect the number of mitral cells seen at PN 30, their nuclear size, or their number of nucleoli. Lateral olfactory tract cross-sectional area was also unaffected by deprivation. Mitral cell perikaryal size, however, was smaller in deprived bulbs. Soma surface areal density of deprived mitral-to-granule cell synapses in deprived bulbs was 65% of the nondeprived density, while the density of granule-to-mitral cell synapses was only 46% of the nondeprived density. It is concluded that neonatal naris closure brings about a functional deprivation of the OB without receptor degeneration. Neonatal olfactory deprivation affects the perikaryl surface area but not the number of mitral cells. Also, deprivation markedly affects the reciprocal synapses between mitral and granule cells. Olfactory sensation thus appears necessary for normal development of OB neurons and synapses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)638-653
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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