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Journal Article

Proliferation in the Rat Olfactory Epithelium: Age-Dependent Changes

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Weiler, E., & Farbman, A. (1997). Proliferation in the Rat Olfactory Epithelium: Age-Dependent Changes. The Journal of Neuroscience, 17(10), 3610-3622. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.17-10-03610.1997.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-E39B-C
Vertebrate olfactory sensory neurons are replaced continuously throughout life. We studied the effect of age on proliferation in olfactory epithelium in postnatal rats ranging in age from birth (P1) until P333. Using BrdU to label dividing cells, we determined the proliferation density of basal cells, i.e., the number of labeled nuclei/unit length (240 μm) of olfactory epithelium in coronal sections from six different anterior–posterior levels from each animal. A total length of >1 m of olfactory epithelium was counted in each age group. We observed a dramatic decrease of proliferation density from P1 through P333. At P1, proliferation density is 151 cells/mm; it decreases to approximately half at P21 (70 cells/mm), and half again at P40 (37 cells/mm). At P333 the proliferation density was only 8/mm, ∼5% of that seen at P1. The changes were clearly related to age and not to body weight, because the values were essentially identical for males and females of the same age but of different body weight. Proliferating cells appear in patches that, after P40, become more separated from one another and contain fewer cells. In 6- and 11-month-old rats, 30 and 45% of all units contained no labeled cells. We confirmed the data of others that the olfactory surface area continuously increases with age; we showed that there is a reciprocal relationship between proliferation density and surface area. The proliferating cells provide neurons to sustain growth as well as to replace dying cells.