The role of the dopamine (DA) in the olfactory bulb (OB) was explored by determining which of the potential target cells express dopamine receptors (DARs). Previously, it was reported that D2-like DAR (D2, D3, and D4 subtypes) radioligand binding is restricted to the outer layers of the OB. The neuronal elements present only in these layers are the axons of the olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and the juxtaglomerular (JG) neurons of the glomerular layer. Based on this pattern of D2-like ligand binding, it was suggested that D2-like receptors might be located presynaptically on ORN terminals. The present study was undertaken to investigate this hypothesis. In the outer bulb layers of rats in which the ORNs were destroyed by nasal lavage with ZnSO(4), D2-like radioligand binding was reduced severely. The receptor subtype D2 mRNA, but not D3 mRNA, was detected in adult rat olfactory epithelial tissue. By using in situ hybridization, this D2 mRNA was located preferentially in epithelial layers that contain ORN perikarya. D2 mRNA was eliminated after bulbectomy, a manipulation known to cause retrograde degeneration of the mature ORNs. Taken together, the surgical manipulations indicate that mature ORNs express D2 DARs and are consistent with the hypothesis that functional receptors are translocated to their axons and terminals in the bulb. This suggests that dopamine released from JG interneurons could be capable of presynaptically influencing neurotransmission from the olfactory nerve terminals to OB target cells through the D2 receptor.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.