Disorders causing a loss of the sense of smell remain a therapeutic challenge. Basic research has, however, greatly expanded our knowledge of the organization and function of the olfactory system. This review describes advances in our understanding of the cellular components of the peripheral olfactory system, specifically the olfactory epithelium in the nose. The article discusses recent findings regarding the mechanisms involved in regeneration and cellular renewal from basal stem cells in the adult olfactory epithelium, considering the strategies involved in embryonic olfactory development and insights from research on other stem cell niches. In the context of clinical conditions causing anosmia, the current view of adult olfactory neurogenesis, tissue homeostasis, and failures in these processes is considered, along with current and future treatment strategies.
Level of evidence: NA.
Keywords: Olfaction; anosmia; regeneration; stem cells.