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Human Olfactory Bulb: Aging of Glomeruli and Mitral Cells and a Search for the Accessory Olfactory Bulba

Authors

  • ESMAIL MEISAMI,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Illinois, 524 Burrill Hall, 407 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA
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  • LAURA MIKHAIL,

    1. Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Illinois, 524 Burrill Hall, 407 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA
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  • DARRIN BAIM,

    1. Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Illinois, 524 Burrill Hall, 407 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA
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  • KUNWAR P. BHATNAGAR

    1. Department of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Kentucky 40292, USA
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    Support for this research was provided by the University of Illinois Research Funds.

Corresponding author. Tel: (217) 244-6175; fax: (217) 333-1133; email: meisami@uiuc.edu

Abstract

ABSTRACT: The aims of this study on the human olfactory bulb were two. First morphometry of the bulbs revealed marked declines during aging in the numbers of mitral cells and glomeruli, the bulb's principal integrative and relay elements. Numbers of glomeruli and mitral cells in each bulb of the young adult human were found to be approximately 8,000 and 40,000, respectively; these numbers declined steadily with age at an approximate rate of 10% per decade, so that in the ninth and tenth decades less than 30% of these elements remain in place. Such a marked decline with aging is suggested to underlie in part the decline in olfactory abilities (odor detection and identification) of humans with aging. In a separate study a systematic search for presence of an accessory olfactory bulb in the adult and aging bulbs was undertaken. No positive evidence for such an organized formation was found in the various regions of the adult bulbs of different age groups. The implications of these negative findings for the recent theories on human vomeronasal function and pheromonal perception are discussed.

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