Impaired olfactory function in mice with allergic rhinitis

Auris Nasus Larynx. 2010 Oct;37(5):575-83. doi: 10.1016/j.anl.2009.12.004. Epub 2010 Mar 26.


Objective: It has been reported that olfactory function is impaired in patients with allergic rhinitis. However, the mechanism of olfactory dysfunction in allergic rhinitis remains poorly understood. Because of difficulties in obtaining and analyzing human olfactory mucosa due to both technical and ethical issues, an animal model needs to be established to clarify the mechanism of olfactory dysfunction in allergic rhinitis. The purpose of this study was to study olfactory function and changes in olfactory mucosa using allergic rhinitis mice.

Methods: A model of allergic rhinitis mice with olfactory dysfunction was developed by sensitizing with ovalbumin (OVA), and intranasally challenging with the same allergen. Olfactory function of mice with or without allergic rhinitis was assessed by odor detection ability test with cycloheximide and local field potential (LFP) with 1-octanal. We also evaluated histological changes in the olfactory mucosa of allergic rhinitis mice by both light and electron microscopy.

Results: Both of odor detection ability test and LFP showed that olfactory function was impaired in mice with allergic rhinitis, but not in mice without allergic rhinitis. Histopathological findings showed prominent infiltration of eosinophils, plasma cells, neutrophils, mast cells, and macrophages in lamina propria of olfactory mucosa of mice with allergic rhinitis, although infiltration of these cells was not seen in control mice. Allergic rhinitis also increased the number and size of glands in olfactory mucosa, suggesting an elevated amount of mucin in olfactory mucosa.

Conclusion: This study showed for the first time that mice with allergic rhinitis have impaired olfactory function, increased size and number of olfactory glands, and infiltration of eosinophils, neutrophils, mast cells, plasma cells, and macrophages in the olfactory mucosa. This suggests that allergic reactions are seen in olfactory mucosa of mice with allergic rhinitis, and that greater olfactory gland activity is associated with olfactory dysfunction. Also, this mouse model could provide an expedient system for analyzing mechanisms of olfactory dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Specificity / immunology
  • Eosinophils / immunology
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Olfactory Mucosa / immunology*
  • Olfactory Mucosa / pathology*
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Plasma Cells / immunology
  • Plasma Cells / pathology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / immunology*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / pathology
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology*


  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Ovalbumin