From chemical neuroanatomy to an understanding of the olfactory system

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L. Oboti
P. Peretto
S. De Marchis *
A. Fasolo
(*) Corresponding Author:
S. De Marchis | silvia.demarchis@unito.it

Abstract

The olfactory system is the appropriate model for studying several aspects of neuronal physiology spanning from the developmental stage to neural network remodelling in the adult brain. Both the morphological and physiological understanding of this system were strongly supported by classical histochemistry. It is emblematic the case of the Olfactory Marker Protein (OMP) staining, the first, powerful marker for fully differentiated olfactory receptor neurons and a key tool to investigate the dynamic relations between peripheral sensory epithelia and central relay regions given its presence within olfactory fibers reaching the olfactory bulb (OB). Similarly, the use of thymidine analogues was able to show neurogenesis in an adult mammalian brain far before modern virus labelling and lipophilic tracers based methods. Nowadays, a wealth of new histochemical techniques combining cell and molecular biology approaches is available, giving stance to move from the analysis of the chemically identified circuitries to functional research. The study of adult neurogenesis is indeed one of the best explanatory examples of this statement. After defining the cell types involved and the basic physiology of this phenomenon in the OB plasticity, we can now analyze the role of neurogenesis in well testable behaviours related to socio-chemical communication in rodents.

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