In vivo determination of mouse olfactory mucus cation concentrations in normal and inflammatory states

Senthil Selvaraj, Kevin Liu, Alan M. Robinson, Victoria A. Epstein, David B. Conley, Robert C. Kern, Claus Peter Richter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Olfaction is impaired in chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). The study has two aims: (1) to determine whether changes in cation concentration occur in the olfactory mucus of mice with CRS, which may affect chemo-electrical transduction, (2) and to examine whether these alterations are physiologically significant in humans. Study Design: Animal study in mice and translational study in humans. Methods: Inflammation was induced by sensitization and chronic exposure of 16 C57BL/6 mice to Aspergillus fumigatus. The control group included 16 untreated mice. Ion-selective microelectrodes were used to measure free cation concentrations in the olfactory mucus of 8 mice from each treatment group, while the remaining mice were sacrificed for histology. To validate the findings in the animal model, olfactory threshold was measured in 11 healthy human participants using Sniffin' Sticks before and after nasal irrigation with solutions that were composed of either of the cation concentrations. Results: In 8 mice, olfactory mucus of chronically inflamed mice had lower [Na+] (84.8±4.45 mM versus 93.73±3.06 mM, p = 0.02), and higher [K+] (7.2±0.65 mM versus 5.7±0.20 mM, p = 0.04) than controls. No difference existed in [Ca2+] (0.50±0.12 mM versus 0.54±0.06 mM, p = 0.39). In humans, rinsing with solutions replicating ion concentrations of the mouse mucosa with chronic inflammation caused a significant elevation in the median olfactory threshold (9.0 to 4.8, p = 0.003) but not with the control solution (8.3 to 7.8, p = 0.75). Conclusion: Chronic inflammation elevates potassium and lowers sodium ion concentration in mice olfactory mucus. Nasal irrigation with a corresponding solution induced olfactory threshold shift in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere39600
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 20 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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