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Distribution and severity of spontaneous lesions in the neuroepithelium and Bowman’s glands in mouse olfactory mucosa: age-related progression


Age-related changes were examined in the distribution and severity of spontaneous lesions in the neuroepithelium and Bowman’s glands in mouse olfactory mucosa. The olfactory mucosa of female ICR mice at postnatal ages from 10 days to 16 months were investigated histologically by hematoxylin and eosin staining, high-iron diamine-Alcian blue (HID-AB) staining, and immunohistochemistry for olfactory marker protein (OMP), βIII tubulin (βIIIT), and Ki67. The lesions in the neuroepithelium and Bowman’s glands were quantitatively assessed by morphometric analyses of sections stained with anti-OMP antibody or HID-AB. The first appearance of neuroepithelial abnormality was observed in the dorsomedial portion of the olfactory mucosa in 5-month-old mice. The distribution and severity of lesions progressed with increasing age. In mildly affected epithelium in which OMP-positive olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) were present but in smaller amounts, the numbers of βIIIT-positive and Ki67-positive neuroepithelial cells tended to be increased, indicating that neurogenesis was upregulated in these areas. In contrast, severely affected epithelium in which OMP-positive ORNs were virtually absent showed high variability in the numbers of βIIIT- and Ki67-positive cells among the areas examined, probably reflecting differences in the capacity of the basal cells remaining in the affected area to generate new neuronal cells. Histological analysis with HID-AB revealed that spontaneous lesions in Bowman’s glands also occurred in aged mouse olfactory mucosa. Lesions in the neuroepithelium and underlying Bowman’s glands tended to be spatially co-localized, suggesting a close association between pathogeneses in these two structures. Moreover, lesions in Bowman’s glands were associated with changes in the biochemical composition of mucus on the olfactory mucosa. This information should prove useful in improving the understanding of the pathogenetic mechanisms underlying age-related changes in the peripheral olfactory system.

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We thank Dr. Frank Margolis, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology/Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, for providing the OMP antiserum, and Mr. Yoshiro Mori, Ms. Yukari Kurasawa, and Mr. Koichi Miyazawa for technical assistance.

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Correspondence to Kenji Kondo.

Additional information

This work was supported by grants from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (nos. 14770886, 16790987 and 18799002; K. Kondo) and a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (Comprehensive Research on Aging and Welfare, no. H13-choju-012; K. Nibu).

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Kondo, K., Watanabe, K., Sakamoto, T. et al. Distribution and severity of spontaneous lesions in the neuroepithelium and Bowman’s glands in mouse olfactory mucosa: age-related progression. Cell Tissue Res 335, 489–503 (2009).

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  • Olfactory neuroepithelium
  • Aging
  • Bowman’s glands
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • High-iron diamine-Alcian blue staining
  • Mouse (ICR, female)