Odor Enrichment Increases Hippocampal Neuron Numbers in Mouse.

Research paper by Zoltán Z Rusznák, Gulgun G Sengul, George G Paxinos, Woojin Scott WS Kim, YuHong Y Fu

Indexed on: 08 May '18Published on: 08 May '18Published in: Experimental neurobiology


The hippocampus and olfactory bulb incorporate new neurons migrating from neurogenic regions in the brain. Hippocampal atrophy is evident in numerous neurodegenerative disorders, and altered hippocampal neurogenesis is an early pathological event in Alzheimer's disease. We hypothesized that hippocampal neurogenesis is affected by olfactory stimuli through the neural pathway of olfaction-related memory. In this study, we exposed mice to novel pleasant odors for three weeks and then assessed the number of neurons, non-neuronal cells (mainly glia) and proliferating cells in the hippocampus and olfactory bulb, using the isotropic fractionator method. We found that the odor enrichment significantly increased the neuronal cell numbers in the hippocampus, and promoted cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the olfactory bulb. In contrast, the glial cell numbers remained unchanged in both of the regions. Our results suggest that exposure to novel odor stimuli promotes hippocampal neurogenesis and support the idea that enriched environments may delay the onset or slow down the progression of neurodegenerative disorders.