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Brain Res. 1998 Mar 30;788(1-2):35-42.

A re-estimation of the number of glomeruli and mitral cells in the olfactory bulb of rabbit.

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Laboratoire de Neurosciences et Systèmes Sensoriels, Université Claude Bernard, Lyon 1, UPRESA 5020, F-69622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France.


Although morphological characteristics of mammalian olfactory bulb (OB) are well documented in rodents (rat, mice), only one study has been performed in rabbit, which is also commonly used in olfactory research. The study carried out by Allison and Warwick in 1949 led to surprising results still quoted in recent literature. The present study re-examined this question in young rabbit OB, while it was also conducted with rat as control. In five animals of each species, areas and coordinates of glomeruli and mitral profiles were measured in 10 coronal sections uniformly distributed along the rostrocaudal axis of the OB, and a distribution-free stereological method was used to compute values along this axis. For glomeruli, the estimated number was 4200 in rat and 6300 in rabbit. While this estimation matched with those found in literature in rat, it strikingly differed from the Allison and Warwick's value of 1900 only. For mitral cell number, we found 59,600 while the preceding study found 45,000 only. In contrast to the number of glomeruli, the mitral cell number in rat and rabbit were very close. Indeed, results showed 56, 200 in rat. The results suggest that the numbers of olfactory glomeruli and mitral cells has been previously underestimated in rabbit, and that the number of glomeruli changes as a function of species. In addition, both the results of the present study and reports in the literature suggest the number of mitral cells to be rather similar in mouse, rat and rabbit. As a consequence, the glomerular/mitral cell ratio is likely to varied in a wide range across species.

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