Ultrastructure of the human vomeronasal organ

Larry J. Stensaas*, Robert M. Lavker, L. Monti-Bloch, Bernard I. Grosser, David L. Berliner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Virtually all vertebrates have a vomeronasal system whose involvement in pheromone detection plays a crucial role in reproduction. In humans, the vomeronasal organ has been assumed to be vestigial or absent and without functional significance. In the present study involving over 400 subjects, vomeronasal pits were observed in all individuals except those with pathological conditions affecting the septum. Electron microscopy of the adult human vomeronasal organ indicates the presence of two potential receptor elements in the pseudostratified epithelial lining: microvillar cells, and unmyelinated, intraepithelial axons. In addition, unmyelinated axons are common in the lamina propria surrounding the organ. They appear to constitute the components essential for a functional chemosensory system, and may thus provide the basis for a pheromone detection system as in other animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-560
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number4 PART 2
StatePublished - Oct 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cell Biology


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