Denervation of the primary olfactory pathway in mice. V. Long-term effect of intranasal ZnSO4 irrigation on behavior, biochemistry and morphology

Brain Res. 1978 Jan 27;140(2):271-85. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(78)90460-2.


Intranasal irrigation of mice with 0.17 M ZnSO4 solution results in the immediate and total loss of the ability to find a buried food pellet. This anosmia persists for 6 weeks in at least 80% of the treated mice and for 4 months in half of the animals. This marked behavioral effect is matched by a long-term reduction of the levels of carnosine synthesis and transport in the primary olfactory pathway. These biochemical parameters are virtually undetectable at two weeks after treatment and even at one year after treatment do not exceed 5-10% of average control values. Light microscopic observations of tissues of the primary olfactory pathway at various times after treatment are consistent with these observations and indicate a substantial destruction of the olfactory epithelium with subsequent atrophy of the olfactory bulb. At very long intervals after treatment, some receptor regeneration is apparent with accompanying reinnervation of the olfactory bulb. Estimates from microscopy and biochemistry suggest that much less than 10% of the normal complement of functioning receptor cells is adequate to give apparently normal food-finding behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alanine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Carnosine / biosynthesis
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Olfactory Bulb / drug effects
  • Olfactory Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Olfactory Mucosa / metabolism
  • Olfactory Mucosa / pathology
  • Olfactory Pathways / drug effects*
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Smell / drug effects
  • Therapeutic Irrigation
  • Zinc / pharmacology*


  • Carnosine
  • Zinc
  • Alanine