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The Laryngoscope

Immunohistochemical characterization of human olfactory tissue.


PMID 21792956

Abstract

The pathophysiology underlying human olfactory disorders is poorly understood because biopsying the olfactory epithelium (OE) can be unrepresentative and extensive immunohistochemical analysis is lacking. Autopsy tissue enriches our grasp of normal and abnormal olfactory immunohistology and guides the sampling of the OE by biopsy. Furthermore, a comparison of the molecular phenotype of olfactory epithelial cells between rodents and humans will improve our ability to correlate human histopathology with olfactory dysfunction. An immunohistochemical analysis of human olfactory tissue using a comprehensive battery of proven antibodies. Human olfactory mucosa obtained from 21 autopsy specimens was analyzed with immunohistochemistry. The position and extent of olfactory mucosa was assayed by staining whole mounts (WMs) with neuronal markers. Sections of the OE were analyzed with an extensive group of antibodies directed against cytoskeletal proteins and transcription factors, as were surgical specimens from an esthesioneuroblastoma. Neuron-rich epithelium is always found inferior to the cribriform plate, even at advanced age, despite the interruptions in the neuroepithelial sheet caused by patchy respiratory metaplasia. The pattern of immunostaining with our antibody panel identifies two distinct types of basal cell progenitors in human OE similar to rodents. The panel also clarifies the complex composition of esthesioneuroblastoma. The extent of human olfactory mucosa at autopsy can easily be delineated as a function of age and neurologic disease. The similarities in human versus rodent OE will enable us to translate knowledge from experimental animals to humans and will extend our understanding of human olfactory pathophysiology.