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Chem Senses. 2007 Mar;32(3):273-84. Epub 2007 Jan 13.

Numerical modeling of odorant uptake in the rat nasal cavity.

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  • 1Department of Bioengineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Pennsylvania, 240 Skirkanich Hall/6321, 210 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


An anatomically accurate 3-dimensional numerical model of the right rat nasal cavity was developed and used to compute low, medium, and high flow rate inspiratory and expiratory mucosal odorant uptake (imposed patterning) for 3 odorants with different mucus solubilities. The computed surface mass flux distributions were compared with anatomic receptor gene expression zones identified in the literature. In general, simulations predicted that odorants that were highly soluble in mucus were absorbed dorsally and medially, corresponding roughly to receptors from one of the gene expression zones. Insoluble odorants tended to be absorbed more peripherally in the rat olfactory region corresponding to the other 2 zones. These findings also agreed in general with the electroolfactogram measurements and the voltage-sensitive dye measurements reported in the literature. This numerical approach is the first to predict detailed odorant flux information across the olfactory mucosa in the rat nasal cavity during inspiratory and expiratory flow and to relate it to anatomic olfactory receptor location, physiological function, and biochemical experiment. This numerical technique can allow us to separate the contributions of imposed and inherent patterning mechanisms on the rat olfactory mucosa.

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