Unilateral naris closure and olfactory system development

Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1994 Jan;19(1):146-60. doi: 10.1016/0165-0173(94)90007-8.


In most animals there is bilateral access of odorants to the olfactory sensory epithelium. Air enters the nose through two external nares and passes back through the nasal cavity, which is divided down the midline by a cartilaginous nasal septum. The olfactory mucosa, a sheet of ciliated bipolar receptor cells, is found in the caudal two thirds of the nasal cavity. Axons from the sensory cells project to an ipsilateral extension of the telencephalon known as the olfactory bulb. If a single external naris of a rat pup is surgically closed (usually via brief cauterization) on the day after the day of birth (P1) and the subject is examined on P30, the size of the ipsilateral olfactory bulb is reduced by approximately 25%. The large reduction in size, coupled with the clear lamination and other features of the olfactory system, indicates that the manipulation is an ideal preparation for examining the regulation of early growth. We know that both olfactory bulbs are of equal size at the time of occlusion, but that 30 days later there is a large discrepancy. What series of events produces the changes? The present paper outlines what is known about the anatomical, biochemical and physiological changes introduced by naris occlusion in order to lay a framework for further work.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Nasal Cavity / anatomy & histology
  • Nasal Cavity / chemistry
  • Nasal Cavity / growth & development*
  • Olfactory Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Olfactory Pathways / chemistry
  • Olfactory Pathways / growth & development*