Odorant-dependent generation of nitric oxide in mammalian olfactory sensory neurons

Daniela Brunert, Stefan Kurtenbach, Sonnur Isik, Heike Benecke, Günter Gisselmann, Wolfgang Schuhmann, Hanns Hatt, Christian H. Wetzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The gaseous signalling molecule nitric oxide (NO) is involved in various physiological processes including regulation of blood pressure, immunocytotoxicity and neurotransmission. In the mammalian olfactory bulb (OB), NO plays a role in the formation of olfactory memory evoked by pheromones as well as conventional odorants. While NO generated by the neuronal isoform of NO synthase (nNOS) regulates neurogenesis in the olfactory epithelium, NO has not been implicated in olfactory signal transduction. We now show the expression and function of the endothelial isoform of NO synthase (eNOS) in mature olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) of adult mice. Using NO-sensitive micro electrodes, we show that stimulation liberates NO from isolated wild-type OSNs, but not from OSNs of eNOS deficient mice. Integrated electrophysiological recordings (electro-olfactograms or EOGs) from the olfactory epithelium of these mice show that NO plays a significant role in modulating adaptation. Evidence for the presence of eNOS in mature mammalian OSNs and its involvement in odorant adaptation implicates NO as an important new element involved in olfactory signal transduction. As a diffusible messenger, NO could also have additional functions related to cross adaptation, regeneration, and maintenance of MOE homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere5499
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 11 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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