Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neuroscience and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research article

Morphological and behavioural changes occur following the X-ray irradiation of the adult mouse olfactory neuroepithelium

Carla Cunha, Yvonne Hort, John Shine and Kharen L Doyle*

Author affiliations

Neuroscience Research Program, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:134  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-134

Published: 31 October 2012



The olfactory neuroepithelium lines the upper nasal cavity and is in direct contact with the external environment and the olfactory bulbs. The ability to self-renew throughout life and the reproducible recovery after injury, make it a model tissue to study mechanisms underlying neurogenesis. In this study, X-rays were used to disrupt proliferating olfactory stem cell populations and to assess their role in the cellular and morphological changes involved in olfactory neurogenic processes.


We have analysed the histological and functional effects of a sub-lethal dose of X-rays on the adult mouse olfactory neuroepithelium at 2 hours, 24 hours, 1 week, 2 weeks and 5 weeks. We have shown an immediate cessation of proliferating olfactory stem cells as shown by BrdU, Ki67 and pH3 expression. At 24 hours there was an increase in the neural transcription factors Mash1 and Pax6 expression, and a disruption of the basal lamina and increase in glandular cell marker expression at 1 week post-irradiation. Coincident with these changes was an impairment of the olfactory function in vivo.


We have shown significant changes in basal cell proliferation as well as morphological changes in the olfactory neuroepithelium following X-ray irradiation. There is involvement of the basal lamina as well as a clear role for glandular and sustentacular cells.

Olfactory neuroepithelium; X-ray irradiation; Proliferation; Apoptosis; Adult stem cells