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Biophys J. 1993 Jun;64(6):1961-6.

Human olfactory neurons respond to odor stimuli with an increase in cytoplasmic Ca2+.

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Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104.


The sense of smell allows terrestrial animals to collect information about the chemical nature of their environment through the detection of airborne molecules. In humans smell is believed to play an important role in protecting the organism from environmental hazards such as fire, gas leaks and spoiled food, in determining the flavor of foods, and perhaps in infant-parent bonding. In addition, the study of human olfaction is relevant to a number of medical problems that result in olfactory dysfunction, which can affect nutritional state, and to the study of the etiology of neurodegenerative diseases which manifest themselves in the olfactory epithelium. Although much is known about behavioral aspects of human olfaction, little is understood about the underlying cellular mechanisms in humans. Here we report that viable human olfactory neurons (HON) can be isolated from olfactory tissue biopsies, and we find that HON respond to odorants with an increase in intracellular calcium concentration ([Cai]).

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