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A unique feature of the olfactory system is its efficiency to produce new neurons in the adult. Thus, destruction of the olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) using chemical (intranasal perfusion with ZnSO4) or surgical (axotomy or bulbectomy) methods, leads to an enhanced rate of proliferation of their progenitors and to complete ORNs regeneration. The aim of our study was to identify new factors implied in this regenerative process. Using an electrophoretic method, we observed the accumulation of a 42 kDa protein after axotomy in the olfactory mucosa, but not in the olfactory bulb. Its expression started after a few days following injury and increased massively during the phase of ORN regeneration. The purification and the sequence characterization revealed that this protein was Ym1/2, recently identified in activated macrophages present in various tissues during inflammation. Western blotting analysis of Ym1/2 confirmed the accumulation of this protein in the regenerating olfactory mucosa consecutively to olfactory axotomy or bulbectomy but also after ZnSO4 irrigation of the nasal cavity. In the olfactory mucosa of control mice, Ym1/2 was hardly detectable in young animals and became more and more abundant with increasing age. In injured and aged mice, Ym1/2 mainly accumulates in the cytoplasm of supporting cells as well as in other cells located throughout the olfactory epithelium. Our results suggest that Ym1/2 is involved in olfactory epithelium remodeling following several kinds of lesions of the adult olfactory mucosa and support the view of a critical role of inflammatory cues in neurodegeneration and aging.
This abstract at PubMed.