Manganese enhanced MRI reveals functional circuitry in response to odorant stimuli

Neuroimage. 2009 Jan 15;44(2):363-72. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.08.046. Epub 2008 Sep 24.


To investigate the circuitry involved in detecting odorants in the rodent brain, we developed a method using manganese-enhanced MRI (MEMRI) to map the flow of neural information from the olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) to the central layers of the olfactory bulb. Studies have shown that Mn(2+) enters active neurons and is transported anterogradely to axon terminals where it can cross synapses to functionally trace neural networks. Thus, by delivering MnCl(2) directly into the nasal cavity of mice and then exposing them to defined odorants, Mn(2+) is preferentially taken up by activated OSNs. Using the time course of the MRI signal, we generated maps of Mn(2+) accumulation in the olfactory bulb for both glomerular and mitral cell layers. Results demonstrated that overlapping yet distinct enhancement patterns were produced by exposure to either octanal, acetophenone, or carvone. Notably, areas of Mn(2+) accumulation in the mitral cell layer were similar to those in the glomerular layer consistent with neural information that passes from specific OSNs to specific mitral cells. Finally, by correlating specific Mn(2+) signal peaks to genetically labeled glomeruli that are known to be activated by the odorant octanal, we show that MEMRI maps can be resolved at the level of individual glomeruli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Manganese*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Odorants*
  • Olfactory Bulb / anatomy & histology
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / cytology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology*


  • Manganese