Encoding pheromonal signals in the mammalian vomeronasal system

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2004 Aug;14(4):428-34. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2004.07.001.


The past few years have delivered substantial progress in understanding the molecular logic of the mammalian vomeronasal system. Selective expression of vomeronasal receptors and high response selectivity of vomeronasal receptor neurons suggest that pheromones are encoded by labeled lines at the level of the vomeronasal organ: each pheromonal compound is represented by the activation of a small and exclusive subset of receptor neurons. Labeled lines might be transferred to the accessory olfactory bulb through convergent connections. The key challenges ahead will be to identify the pheromonal ligands of the receptors and unravel the functional connectivity from the vomeronasal organ to the hypothalamus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mammals / anatomy & histology
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / cytology
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / physiology
  • Pheromones / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Vomeronasal Organ / cytology
  • Vomeronasal Organ / physiology*


  • Pheromones