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Neuroscience. 1995 May;66(1):215-25.

NADPH diaphorase staining suggests localization of nitric oxide synthase within mature vertebrate olfactory neurons.

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Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Nitric oxide, a simple gas which serves as a neurotransmitter in the CNS, has been proposed to serve as an interneuronal second messenger in olfactory transduction. However, the role of nitric oxide in olfaction has been questioned by experiments in which nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme that generates nitric oxide, could not be localized to the olfactory epithelium. We have localized nitric oxide synthase to the olfactory neurons in adult rat and catfish olfactory epithelia using a modified nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase technique. In the rat, staining was also found in cells with morphology reminiscent of microvillar olfactory cells. In contrast, the respiratory epithelium and the sustentacular cells in the olfactory epithelium displayed no staining. The nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase reaction, which has been shown to co-localize with immunohistochemical staining for nitric oxide synthase in the brain, was stimulated by addition of the nitric oxide synthase substrate L-arginine, and was inhibited by the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor L-NG-nitro arginine, indicating that staining was specific for nitric oxide synthase. Unilateral bulbectomy, which causes degeneration of mature olfactory neurons on the bulbectomized size, markedly reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase staining. These observations were substantiated by biochemical assays for nitric oxide synthase by monitoring the production of [3H]-L-citrulline from [3H]-L-arginine. This is the first demonstration of specific NADPH diaphorase staining of mature olfactory neurons in rat and catfish olfactory epithelial suggesting the presence of nitric oxide synthase in these cells. Our histological and biochemical findings, in conjunction with data from other research, are supportive of a role for nitric oxide synthase in olfactory function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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