Expression of glucocorticoid receptor mrna and protein in the olfactory mucosa: Physiologic and pathophysiologic implications

Alan M. Robinson, Robert C. Kern, James D. Foster, Karen J. Fong, Dimitri Z. Pitovski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Define the presence and distribution of glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) within the olfactory mucosa in order to assess potential physiologic and pathophysiologic effects of these hormones on olfaction. The olfactory mucosa was harvested from adult male rats and guinea pigs. Kidney tissue was utilized as a known positive control. The techniques of reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunocytochemistry were utilized to examine the expression of GR mRNA and protein. To assure the presence of olfactory mucosa in the nasal tissue samples, RT-PCR was utilized to identify the olfactory marker protein (OMP). The presence of GR mRNA was confirmed in both the olfactory mucosa and kidney. GR-like immunoreactivity associated with the olfactory epithelium was greatest at the apical surface, a position corresponding to the dendrites, knobs, and cilia of olfactory receptor neurons, as well as the supranuclear region of sustentacular cells. Weaker GR-like immunoreactivity was associated with the region of the cell bodies of the olfactory receptor neurons. Within the lamina propria, acinar cells of the Bowman's glands and olfactory nerve bundles were intensely immunoreactive. The presence of GR mRNA and protein within the olfactory mucosa is consistent with a functional role for glucocorticoid hormones in the systemic regulation of olfaction. Furthermore, these studies suggest that corticosteroid medications may have direct effects on the cells of the olfactory mucosa in the pathologic state. The potential mechanisms whereby these hormones may act are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1238-1242
Number of pages5
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1998


  • Anosmia
  • Bowman’s glands
  • corticosteroids
  • olfactory mucus
  • olfactory transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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