Odor perception within olfactory neuroepithelium and pigment translocation within melanophores both seem to rely on a cAMP-based second messenger system.
From studies on cultured frog melanophores, Lerner et al. (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 85:261-264, 1988) suggested that some aspect of odor perception may be mediated by a nonspecific mechanism whose signal is transduced by a cAMP-based second messenger system.
In the present study, odorants (β-ionone, benzylaldehyde, cineole, cinnamaldehyde, and octanol), which previously have been shown to stimulate formation of cAMP in the olfactory neuroepithelium, were investigated for possible pigment dispersing and cAMP-increasing effects. Pretreatment of fish melanophores with the adenylate cyclase activator forskolin (1 μM) resulted in an approximately 300% increase in cAMP and an almost complete blockage of noradrenaline-induced pigment aggregation. However, none of the tested odorants were able to increase the cAMP level and only cinnaldehyde and β-ionone were found to have any pigment dispersing activity.