Scientists Find Neuron ‘Nursery’ in Adult Human Nose Tissue
Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Duke Institute for Brain Sciences say they have discovered a thriving neuron ‘nursery’ in the olfactory neuroepithelium, a section of adult human nose tissue.
Previously, studies had been limited to nasal tissue samples from mice.
In the human tissue samples used in the new study, researchers found that immature neurons produced by stem cells represented more than half of the neurons in the samples, suggesting that new neurons were produced in the tissue.
Sense of Smell
“We do not fully understand why people lose their sense of smell, which can occur for many reasons, and our data sets provide a wealth of information about the cell populations present in adult olfactory tissue,”Dr. Goldstein, lead researcher said.
“This is an important step in developing treatment strategies for conditions when this tissue may be damaged.”
Approximately one in eight Americans over age 40 — up to 13.3 million people — have measurable smell dysfunction.
“It will be very useful to use this window to analyze samples from people with conditions in which the nervous system has degeneration, such as Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Goldstein said.
“Alzheimer’s is of particular interest, since these patients lose their sense of smell quite early in the disease process, and we have few treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.”
“While we weren’t able to observe the neurons being made because of the nature of human samples, the molecular makeup of the immature neurons in the sample provides strong evidence that they were made in the nose during adulthood,” said Professor Hiroaki Matsunami, co-author of the study.