Changes in the serotonergic system in the main olfactory bulb of rats unilaterally deprived from birth to adulthood

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The serotonergic system plays a key role in the modulation of olfactory processing. The present study examined the plastic response of this centrifugal system after unilateral naris occlusion, analysing both serotonergic afferents and receptors in the main olfactory bulb. After 60 days of sensory deprivation, the serotonergic system exhibited adaptive changes. Olfactory deprivation caused a general increase in the number of fibres immunopositive for serotonin but not of those immunopositive for the serotonin transporter. HPLC data revealed an increase in serotonin levels but not in those of its major metabolite, 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid, resulting in a decrease in the 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid/serotonin ratio. These changes were observed not only in the deprived but also in the contralateral olfactory bulb. Double serotonin–tyrosine hydroxylase immunolabelling revealed that the glomerular regions of the deprived olfactory bulb with a high serotonergic fibre density showed a strong reduction in tyrosine hydroxylase. Finally, the serotonin2A receptor distribution density and the number of juxtaglomerular cells immunopositive for serotonin2A receptor remained unaltered after olfactory deprivation. Environmental stimulation modulated the serotonergic afferents to the olfactory bulb. Our results indicate the presence of a bilateral accumulation of serotonin in the serotonergic axon network, with no changes in serotonin2A receptor density after unilateral olfactory deprivation.

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