Assessing the efficacy of endoscopic office olfactory biopsy sites to produce neural progenitor cell cultures for the study of neuropsychiatric disorders


  • Funding sources for the study: 2006 NARSAD Young Investigator Award (to O.V.E.); NIH grants 5 UL1 RR031986-02 (CTSI) and 1R01MH086874-01A2 (NIMH) (both to O.V.E.).

  • Potential conflict of interest: None provided.

Correspondence to: Bozena Wrobel, University of Southern California, Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, 1520 San Pablo Street, Suite 4600, Los Angeles, CA 90033; e-mail:



The olfactory region is capable of continuous neurogenesis. Situated on the cribriform plate and segments of the superior septum and both superior and middle turbinates, it is accessible through office-based biopsy and can be used to generate neural progenitor cells to study molecular abnormalities associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the efficacy of the endoscopic office olfactory biopsy from middle turbinate and superior-posterior septum to produce the neural progenitor cells.


Endoscopic office-based biopsy samples were collected and cultured neuronal cells derived from olfactory neuroepithelium (CNON) were established from 40 healthy individuals and 40 schizophrenia patients. All patients underwent biopsies of both the middle turbinate and the superior-posterior septum. Specific culture conditions promoted the growth of neural progenitor cells from these biopsy sites. CNON cultures were established from such outgrowing neuronal cells. The study was institutional review board (IRB)-approved and informed consent was obtained.


Cultures were successfully developed from 98.8% of participants. No complications were observed. The single, unsuccessful specimen failed to grow any cell types due to tissue mishandling. Overall, we have observed no significant difference in the effectiveness of biopsy from middle turbinate and superior-posterior septum to produce neural progenitor cells.


The middle turbinate biopsies contain viable neural progenitor cells capable of generating neuronal cell cultures. Thus technically more simple biopsy of the middle turbinate can be used to propagate neural progenitor cells.