Safety and efficacy of superior turbinate biopsies as a source of olfactory epithelium appropriate for morphological analysis
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There is no standardized approach for preserving olfactory function in the side of the nose where biopsy of the olfactory epithelium (OE) is performed. Moreover, a gold standard technique for obtaining human OE in vivo is still lacking. We determined the efficacy of obtaining good-quality OE specimens suitable for pathological analysis from the lower half of the superior turbinate and verified the safety of this procedure in maintaining bilateral and unilateral olfactory function.
In 21 individuals without olfactory complaints and who had undergone septoplasty and inferior turbinectomy OE biopsy was made during septoplasty. Olfactory function, both unilateral and bilateral, was assessed using the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) before and 1 month after the procedure. Specimens were marked with the olfactory marker protein for confirmation of OE presence.
Ninety percent of the samples contained OE, although clear histological characterization was possible from only 62%. There was no deterioration of UPSIT scores either bilaterally or unilaterally on the side of the biopsy. Patients also maintained the ability to identify individual odorants.
Biopsies of the lower half of the superior turbinate do not affect olfactory function and show strong efficacy in yielding OE tissue and moderate efficacy for yielding tissue appropriate for morphological analysis. Future studies are needed to assess the safety of this procedure in other OE regions.
KeywordsSmell Immunohistochemistry Smell tests Morphology Nasal mucosa Olfactory function
The authors thank Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and Fundação Araucária for PhD, Post-Doc and PQ for financial support. We especially thank professor Eric H. Holbrook for helping in the final review of the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
Richard L. Doty receives funding from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. He is a consultant to Acorda Therapeutics, Eisai Co, Ltd, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson. He receives royalties from Cambridge University Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, and John Wiley & Sons, Inc. He is President of, and a major shareholder in, Sensonics International, a manufacturer and distributor of smell- and taste tests. The other authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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