The olfactory epithelium (OE) is unusual in its ability to regenerate and reinnervate its target, the olfactory bulb (OB), after deafferentation. To address the question of whether olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) axons preserve their topographic organization when they reestablish synaptic contact with the OB, the authors examined the pattern of ORN axon reinnervation into the bulb of adult H-OMP-lacZ-6 transgenic mice during and after recovery from chemical deafferentation. In the H-OMP-lacZ-6 mouse strain, lacZ expression is limited to a subset of ORNs that are distributed bilaterally in the OE and project primarily to a few glomeruli in the ventromedial region of the OB. The OE was lesioned by intranasal irrigation with Triton X-100, and the distribution of 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl-beta-D-galactopyranoside (X-gal)-stained cells was examined in the OE along with beta-galactosidase-immunoreactive (beta-gal-ir) axonal processes in the OB after short (1 week), intermediate (3 week), and long (6-7 weeks) recovery times. One week after the lesion, immunostaining for beta-gal and olfactory marker protein was virtually eliminated in the bulb. After 3 weeks of recovery, beta-gal-containing axons appeared to target many of the same locations innervated in bulbs of unlesioned mice. The region that received the highest density of axonal innervation in controls, however, contained only a few processes at that time. After 6-7 week recovery periods, the pattern of X-gal staining in the OE and beta-gal-ir axons in the OB closely resembled that of unlesioned mice. These results demonstrate that the topographic distribution of ORNs in the OE and the pattern of axon innervation in the OB can be reconstituted after chemical deafferentation.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.