Unilateral odor deprivation: early postnatal changes in olfactory bulb cell density and number

J Comp Neurol. 1988 Mar 15;269(3):355-70. doi: 10.1002/cne.902690304.


Surgical closure of an external naris of the rat from postnatal day 1 to day 30 results in a 25% decrease in the size of the ipsilateral olfactory bulb. Decreases in size must result from changes in either the number of neurons and/or glia, or their size or both. The present study was designed to quantify cell density (Nv) and number at various early postnatal ages in order to examine both normal patterns of maturation and sequences of change resulting from deprivation. Data from control subjects indicated that numbers of mitral cells remained constant while numbers of external tufted cells increased. Both relay cell populations exhibited increases in nuclear size suggestive of substantial postnatal differentiation. All interneuronal and glial populations increased in number, although differences in maturational patterns were observed between cell species. For example, light and dark subpopulations of granule cells differed in the timing of peak cellular density, and an inside-to-outside gradient of maturation was found for dark granule cells. Growth curves were generally similar in occluded and control pups until approximately day 20, when deprivation resulted in decreased number and nuclear area of external tufted cells and density and number of granule cells and their associated glia. Light granule cells were affected earlier than dark cells, perhaps because of their earlier arrival in the granule cell layer. The affected cell groups represent the last relay and interneuronal populations to be generated, perhaps explaining their particular susceptibility to the effects of experience. Most of the changes emerged late, thus suggesting that they represent the culmination of a series of experience-induced changes within the maturing bulb. The observed effects may result from either altered cellular proliferation or death patterns (or both), alternatives now under investigation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Nucleus / analysis
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Odorants*
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology
  • Olfactory Bulb / growth & development*
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology
  • Rats
  • Sensory Deprivation*