Morphological study of the effects of intranasal zinc sulfate irrigation on the mouse olfactory epithelium and olfactory bulb

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The effects of intranasal zinc sulfate (ZnSO4) irrigation on the morphology of the olfactory epithelium and olfactory bulb were studied in mice with short survival times (as early as 1 day) and with long survival times (up to 593 days) after the irrigation procedure. As in several previous studies, the olfactory epithelium was completely destroyed within a few days after the ZnSO4 treatment. Within 24 days, the septum and turbinates were covered by a new, cuboidal epithelium, the cells of which differed significantly from any cells normally seen in the olfactory epithelium. Slowly, over several months, small areas of the olfactory epithelium regenerated in many of the animals. The ultrastructural changes occurring in the olfactory bulb from 1 to 25 days (the reactive stage) were characterized by degenerating olfactory axons and axon terminals, hypertrophy of astroglial cell processes, and proliferation of or extravasation by phagocytic cells. By 25 days after intranasal ZnSO4 irrigation, the number of reactive glial processes and phagocytic cells returned to normal. In some mice with survival times of 150 days or longer, there was reinnervation of small areas of the olfactory bulb by regenerated olfactory axons. These new olfactory axons innervated only superficial glomeruli or the outer portions of deeper glomeruli, but they formed synaptic contacts with mitral/tufted cells and periglomerular cells that did not differ from control animals. These findings were supported by tracttracing experiments with 3Hamino acids and by behavioral analysis. In summary, the ultrastructural changes observed in the olfactory bulb in this study were not significantly different from those observed after surgical lesions of the olfactory epithelium or nerve. The olfactory bulb, however, never fully recovered; glomeruli remained shrunken (though with normal dendrodendritic synaptic connections), and there was minimal olfactory axon reinnervation.1993 WileyLiss, Inc. Copyright1993 WileyLiss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-213
Number of pages19
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 15 1993


  • Deafferentation
  • Electron microscopy
  • Olfactory receptor cells
  • Regeneration
  • Sensory afferents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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