Ultrastructural morphology of the olfactory pathway for cerebrospinal fluid drainage in the rabbit

J Neurosurg. 1986 Mar;64(3):466-73. doi: 10.3171/jns.1986.64.3.0466.


Previous physiological studies indicate that the olfactory region serves as a major pathway for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage into the lymphatic system. The present study was undertaken to determine the ultrastructural characteristics of this egress route. New Zealand White rabbits received a single bolus injection of the tracer ferritin (MW 400,000) into both lateral ventricles in such a manner as not to raise the intraventricular pressure above the normal level. The animals were sacrificed via intracardiac perfusion of fixative between less than 12 minutes and 4 hours following injection. The cribriform region was removed en bloc, decalcified, sectioned coronally, and prepared for light and electron microscopic examination. The arachnoid, dura, and periosteum surrounding the fila olfactoria passing through the cribriform plate merge together and form the perineurium, which consists of multiple layers of loosely overlapping cells with widely separated junctions and few vesicles. The perineurium surrounding the olfactory filaments at the superficial submucosal level is only one cell thick. The subarachnoid space freely communicates with the perineural space surrounding each filament. No morphological barrier between the perineural space and the loose submucosal connective tissue was identified. Whether or not the perineurium was multi- or single-layered, ferritin was noted in abundance between the loosely overlapping perineural cells and in the submucosal connective tissue. The distribution of ferritin at 12 minutes was similar to that at 4 hours; however, the quantity of ferritin was increased at 4 hours. These results indicate that no significant barrier to CSF drainage is present at the rabbit cribriform region and that CSF reaches the submucosal region rapidly via open pathways.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / ultrastructure*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / physiology
  • Female
  • Lymphatic System / physiology
  • Lymphatic System / ultrastructure
  • Olfactory Mucosa / anatomy & histology
  • Olfactory Mucosa / physiology
  • Olfactory Mucosa / ultrastructure
  • Olfactory Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Olfactory Nerve / ultrastructure
  • Olfactory Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology
  • Olfactory Pathways / ultrastructure*
  • Rabbits