Indistinguishable odour enantiomers: Differences between peripheral and central-nervous electrophysiological responses.
ABSTRACT: The ability of humans to discriminate enantiomeric odour pairs is substance -specific. Current literature suggests that psychophysical discrimination of odour enantiomers mainly depends on the peripheral processing at the level of the olfactory sensory neurons (OSN). To study the influence of central processing in discrimination, we investigated differences in the electrophysiological responses to psychophysically indistinguishable (+)- and (-)- rose oxide enantiomers at peripheral and central-nervous levels in humans. We recorded the electro-olfactogram (EOG) from the olfactory epithelium and the EEG-derived olfactory event-related potentials (OERP). Results from a psychophysical three alternative forced choice test indicated indistinguishability of the two odour enantiomers. In a total of 19 young participants EOG could be recorded in 74 and OERP in 95% of subjects. Significantly different EOG amplitudes and latencies were recorded in response to the 2 stimuli. However, no such differences in amplitude or latency emerged for the OERP. In conclusion, although the pair of enantiomer could be discriminated at a peripheral level this did not lead to a central-nervous/cognitive differentiation of the two stimuli.
Project description:A large set of xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes (XMEs), such as the cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (CYPs), esterases and transferases, are highly expressed in mammalian olfactory mucosa (OM). These enzymes are known to catalyze the biotransformation of exogenous compounds to facilitate elimination. However, the functions of these enzymes in the olfactory epithelium are not clearly understood. In addition to protecting against inhaled toxic compounds, these enzymes could also metabolize odorant molecules, and thus modify their stimulating properties or inactivate them. In the present study, we investigated the in vitro biotransformation of odorant molecules in the rat OM and assessed the impact of this metabolism on peripheral olfactory responses. Rat OM was found to efficiently metabolize quinoline, coumarin and isoamyl acetate. Quinoline and coumarin are metabolized by CYPs whereas isoamyl acetate is hydrolyzed by carboxylesterases. Electro-olfactogram (EOG) recordings revealed that the hydroxylated metabolites derived from these odorants elicited lower olfactory response amplitudes than the parent molecules. We also observed that glucurono-conjugated derivatives induced no olfactory signal. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the local application of a CYP inhibitor on rat olfactory epithelium increased EOG responses elicited by quinoline and coumarin. Similarly, the application of a carboxylesterase inhibitor increased the EOG response elicited by isoamyl acetate. This increase in EOG amplitude provoked by XME inhibitors is likely due to enhanced olfactory sensory neuron activation in response to odorant accumulation. Taken together, these findings strongly suggest that biotransformation of odorant molecules by enzymes localized to the olfactory mucosa may change the odorant's stimulating properties and may facilitate the clearance of odorants to avoid receptor saturation.
Project description:Enantiomeric pairs of mirror-image molecular structures are difficult to resolve by instrumental analyses. The human olfactory system, however, discriminates (-)-wine lactone from its (+)-form rapidly within seconds. To gain insight into receptor coding of enantiomers, we compared behavioural detection and discrimination thresholds of wild-type mice with those of ΔD mice in which all dorsal olfactory receptors are genetically ablated. Surprisingly, wild-type mice displayed an exquisite "supersensitivity" to enantiomeric pairs of wine lactones and carvones. They were capable of supersensitive discrimination of enantiomers, consistent with their high detection sensitivity. In contrast, ΔD mice showed selective major loss of sensitivity to the (+)-enantiomers. The resulting 10(8)-fold differential sensitivity of ΔD mice to (-)- vs. (+)-wine lactone matched that observed in humans. This suggests that humans lack highly sensitive orthologous dorsal receptors for the (+)-enantiomer, similarly to ΔD mice. Moreover, ΔD mice showed >10(10)-fold reductions in enantiomer discrimination sensitivity compared to wild-type mice. ΔD mice detected one or both of the (-)- and (+)-enantiomers over a wide concentration range, but were unable to discriminate them. This "enantiomer odour discrimination paradox" indicates that the most sensitive dorsal receptors play a critical role in hierarchical odour coding for enantiomer identification.
Project description:For certain odorants, the amplitude of the rat electro-olfactogram is reduced if the olfactory epithelium is treated with the lectin concanavalin A. When normal and cycloalkanes of one to ten carbon atoms are used as odorants at equimolar concentration, the maximum reduction in amplitude is found to correlate with the size of the stimulus molecule. This observation is consistent with the notion that concanavalin A disables an olfactory receptor molecule which normally responds to the alkyl moiety of odorants in a particular size range. That moiety may thus represent a 'primary' quality-determining component in odour discrimination.
Project description:The mammalian main olfactory epithelium (MOE) modifies its activities in response to changes in the chemical environment. This process is essential for maintaining the functions of the olfactory system and the upper airway. However, mechanisms involved in this functional maintenance, especially those occurring via paracrine regulatory pathways within the multicellular MOE, are poorly understood. Previously, a population of non-neuronal, transient receptor potential M5-expressing microvillous cells (TRPM5-MCs) was identified in the MOE, and the initial characterization of these cells showed that they are cholinergic and responsive to various xenobiotics including odorants at high concentrations. Here, we investigated the role of TRPM5-MCs in maintaining olfactory function using transcription factor Skn-1a knockout (Skn-1a-/-) mice, which lack TRPM5-MCs in the MOE. Under our standard housing conditions, Skn-1a-/- mice do not differ significantly from control mice in odor-evoked electro-olfactogram (EOG) responses and olfactory-guided behaviors, including finding buried food and preference reactions to socially and sexually relevant odors. However, after a 2-wk exposure to high-concentration odor chemicals and chitin powder, Skn-1a-/- mice exhibited a significant reduction in their odor and pheromone-evoked EOG responses. Consequently, their olfactory-guided behaviors were impaired compared with vehicle-exposed Skn-1a-/- mice. Conversely, the chemical exposure did not induce significant changes in the EOG responses and olfactory behaviors of control mice. Therefore, our physiological and behavioral results indicate that TRPM5-MCs play a protective role in maintaining the olfactory function of the MOE.
Project description:Neuropeptide Y (NPY) plays an important role in regulating appetite and hunger in vertebrates. In the hypothalamus, NPY stimulates food intake under the control of the nutritional status. Previous studies have shown the presence of NPY and receptors in rodent olfactory system, and suggested a neuroproliferative role. Interestingly, NPY was also shown to directly modulate olfactory responses evoked by a food-related odorant in hungry axolotls. We have recently demonstrated that another nutritional cue, insulin, modulates the odorant responses of the rat olfactory mucosa (OM). Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the potential effect of NPY on rat OM responses to odorants, in relation to the animal's nutritional state. We measured the potential NPY modulation of OM responses to odorant, using electro-olfactogram (EOG) recordings, in fed and fasted adult rats. NPY application significantly and transiently increased EOG amplitudes in fasted but not in fed rats. The effects of specific NPY-receptor agonists were similarly quantified, showing that NPY operated mainly through Y1 receptors. These receptors appeared as heterogeneously expressed by olfactory neurons in the OM, and western blot analysis showed that they were overexpressed in fasted rats. These data provide the first evidence that NPY modulates the initial events of odorant detection in the rat OM. Because this modulation depends on the nutritional status of the animal, and is ascribed to NPY, the most potent orexigenic peptide in the central nervous system, it evidences a strong supplementary physiological link between olfaction and nutritional processes.
Project description:The stimulus complexity of naturally occurring odours presents unique challenges for central nervous systems that are aiming to internalize the external olfactory landscape. One mechanism by which the brain encodes perceptual representations of behaviourally relevant smells is through the synthesis of different olfactory inputs into a unified perceptual experience--an odour object. Recent evidence indicates that the identification, categorization and discrimination of olfactory stimuli rely on the formation and modulation of odour objects in the piriform cortex. Convergent findings from human and rodent models suggest that distributed piriform ensemble patterns of olfactory qualities and categories are crucial for maintaining the perceptual constancy of ecologically inconstant stimuli.
Project description:Various genetic or toxin-induced mouse models are frequently used for investigation of early PD pathology. Although olfactory impairment is known to precede motor symptoms by years, it is not known whether it is caused by impairments in the brain, the olfactory epithelium, or both. In this study, we investigated the olfactory function in three genetic Parkinson's disease (PD) mouse models and mice treated with MPTP intraperitoneally and intranasally. To investigate olfactory function, we performed electro-olfactogram recordings (EOGs) and an olfactory behavior test (cookie-finding test). We show that neither a parkin knockout mouse strain, nor intraperitoneal MPTP treated animals display any olfactory impairment in EOG recordings and the applied behavior test. We also found no difference in the responses of the olfactory epithelium to odorants in a mouse strain over-expressing doubly mutated ?-synuclein, while this mouse strain was not suitable to test olfaction in a cookie-finding test as it displays a mobility impairment. A transgenic mouse expressing mutated ?-synuclein in dopaminergic neurons performed equal to control animals in the cookie-finding test. Further we show that intranasal MPTP application can cause functional damage of the olfactory epithelium.
Project description:Lesion experiments suggest that odour input to the olfactory bulb contains significant redundant signal such that rodents can discern odours using minimal stimulus-related information. Here we investigate the dependence of odour-quality perception on the integrity of glomerular activity by comparing odour-evoked activity maps before and after epithelial lesions. Lesions prevent mice from recognizing previously experienced odours and differentially delay discrimination learning of unrecognized and novel odour pairs. Poor recognition results not from mice experiencing an altered concentration of an odour but from perception of apparent novel qualities. Consistent with this, relative intensity of glomerular activity following lesions is altered compared with maps recorded in shams and by varying odour concentration. Together, these data show that odour recognition relies on comprehensively matching input patterns to a previously generated stimulus template. When encountering novel odours, access to all glomerular activity ensures rapid generation of new templates to perform accurate perceptual judgements.
Project description:We have studied the effect of concanavalin A (Con A) on the rat electro-olfactogram response to several odorants. Each odorant was applied over a range of concentrations. For hydrophobic odorants whose response was affected by Con A, the diminution in response was maximal at odorant concentrations of about 1 microM in the olfactory mucus. The (odour) concentration-dependence of the change is compatible with the idea that Con A inactivates one or more types of olfactory receptor that normally bind odorants with dissociation constants of the order of 100 nM. With hydrophilic odorants we had to apply concentrations very much higher than this to elicit any response from the system. At these high concentrations we could observe Con A-induced diminutions in response.
Project description:Olfactory and trigeminal chemosensory systems reside in parallel within the mammalian nose. Psychophysical studies in people indicate that these two systems interact at a perceptual level. Trigeminal sensations of pungency mask odour perception, while olfactory stimuli can influence trigeminal signal processing tasks such as odour localization. While imaging studies indicate overlap in limbic and cortical somatosensory areas activated by nasal trigeminal and olfactory stimuli, there is also potential cross-talk at the level of the olfactory epithelium, the olfactory bulb and trigeminal brainstem. Here we explored the influence of olfactory and trigeminal signaling in the nasal cavity. A forced choice water consumption paradigm was used to ascertain whether trigeminal and olfactory stimuli could influence behaviour in mice. Mice avoided water sources surrounded by both volatile TRPV1 (cyclohexanone) and TRPA1 (allyl isothiocyanate) irritants and the aversion to cyclohexanone was mitigated when combined with a pure odorant (rose fragrance, phenylethyl alcohol, PEA). To determine whether olfactory-trigeminal interactions within the nose could potentially account for this behavioural effect we recorded from single trigeminal sensory axons innervating the nasal respiratory and olfactory epithelium using an isolated in vitro preparation. To circumvent non-specific effects of chemical stimuli, optical stimulation was used to excite olfactory sensory neurons in mice expressing channel-rhodopsin (ChR2) under the olfactory marker protein (OMP) promoter. Photoactivation of olfactory sensory neurons produced no modulation of axonal action potential conduction in individual trigeminal axons. Similarly, no evidence was found for collateral branching of trigeminal axon that might serve as a conduit for cross-talk between the olfactory and respiratory epithelium and olfactory dura mater. Using direct assessment of action potential activity in trigeminal axons we observed neither paracrine nor axon reflex mediated cross-talk between olfactory and trigeminal sensory systems in the rodent nasal cavity. Our current results suggest that olfactory sensory neurons exert minimal influence on trigeminal signals within the nasal cavity.