Apoptosis induced by prolonged exposure to odorants in cultured cells from rat olfactory epithelium

Sebastian Brauchi, Christian Cea, Jorge G. Farias, Juan Bacigalupo, Juan G. Reyes

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12 Scopus citations


Multicellular organisms undergo programmed cell death (PCD) as a mechanism for tissue remodeling during development and tissue renewal throughout adult life. Overdose of some neuronal receptor agonists like glutamate can trigger a PCD process termed excitotoxicity in neurons of the central nervous system. Calcium has an important role in PCD processes, especially in excitotoxicity. Since the normal turnover of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) relies, at least in part, on an apoptotic mechanism and odor transduction in ORNs involves an increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), we investigated the possibility that long-term exposures to odorants could trigger an excitotoxic process in olfactory epithelial cells (EC). We used single-cell [Ca2+]i determinations and fluorescence microscopy techniques to study the effects of sustained odorant exposures in olfactory EC in primary culture. Induction of PCD was evaluated successively by three independent criteria: (1) measurements of DNA fragmentation, (2) translocation of phosphatidylserine to the external leaflet of the plasma membrane, and (3) caspase-3 activation. Our results support the notion of an odorant-induced PCD in olfactory EC. This odorant-induced PCD was prevented by LY83583, an odorant response inhibitor, suggesting that ORNs are the main epithelial cell population undergoing odorant-induced PCD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-122
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 4 Aug 2006


  • Apoptosis
  • Calcium
  • Olfactory epithelium
  • Olfactory neuron
  • Signal transduction


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