, Volume 124, Issue 3, pp 259-265

Neural and behavioral changes in rats following continuous exposure to an odor

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Continuous exposure of young rats to the almond-like odor of acetophenone or cyclohexanone for up to 4 months, resulted in distinct but similar patterns of degenerating mitral cells in their olfactory bulbs. Rats favored their exposure odor in olfactory preference tests (Fig. 2) and their acuity for it was not altered (Fig. 3). However, they appeared to exhibit a deficit in detecting a similar but novel odor. The results suggest that the remaining normal mitral cells in the bulbs of these animals are those stimulated by the exposure odor. Cells which show signs of degeneration (Fig. 4) may receive little or no input from the periphery. Controls exposed to a similar but non-odorous environment showed evidence of non-selective mitral cell degeneration. In addition they had a lower acuity for acetophenone and cyclohexanone than animals reared in a normal rat colony (Fig. 3). Anatomical and behavioral data from odor exposed and control groups, suggest that partial regeneration of altered mitral cells may have occurred during a 5 month period following exposure. Overall the results provide further evidence for a topographical projection of the olfactory receptor epithelium onto the olfactory bulb and spatial coding of different odors in the bulb.