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J Neurocytol. 1989 Jun;18(3):381-91.

Three-dimensional scanning electron microscopic study of the normal hamster olfactory epithelium.

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Department of Physiology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond 23298-0551.


The olfactory epithelium of the adult hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) was studied using the scanning electron microscope. A method that produced fractures in the epithelium exposed structures below the surface and made it possible to examine the morphological and structural relationships among cells. Three cell types were studied: supporting cells, olfactory neurons (receptor cells) and basal cells. Supporting cells were observed spanning the full extent of the epithelium, and had basal foot processes that terminated at or near the basal lamina. Along the lateral margin of supporting cells, cellular processes were observed extending outwards, reaching olfactory neurons and adjacent supporting cells. These cellular contacts among supporting cells and olfactory neurons were present at different levels of the epithelium. Olfactory neurons were located primarily in the middle and lower epithelial regions. Their dendritic processes reached the epithelial surface in a straight or tortuous manner, passing between the supporting cells. Olfactory axons were observed as thin unbranched processes that emerged from a conical hillock region, passed basally, and fasciculated into larger sensory bundles within the lamina propria. Basal cells were observed adjacent to the basal lamina as a row of single cells or clustered in groups. Within the lamina propria connective tissue, blood vessels, axon bundles and Bowman's glands were examined. Bowman's glands were composed of pyramidal secretory cells arranged about a single duct that extended to the epithelial surface. Scanning electron microscopy provided a unique three-dimensional analysis of cell structure within the olfactory epithelium. The results provide new and different observations on the detailed morphology and intimate relationships that exist among epithelial cells, and complement previous light and transmission EM observations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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