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Plendl, J.; Sinowatz, Fred (1998): Glycobiology of the olfactory system. In: Acta Anatomica, No. 1-4: pp. 234-253


The olfactory system is a highly plastic region of the nervous system. Continuous remodeling of neuronal circuits in the olfactory bulb takes place throughout life as a result of constant turnover of primary sensory olfactory neurons in the periphery. Glycoconjugates are very important in olfactory development, regeneration and function. This article deals with different aspects of glycobiology relevant for the olfactory system. Various anatomical? developmental and functional subdivisions of the olfactory system have been labeled with exogenous lectins. The application of reverse lectin histochemistry resulted in the visualization of endogenous lectins, involved in fasciculation of olfactory axons. Numerous glycoproteins, among them members of the immunoglobulin superfamily, the cadherins and integrins as well as different,glycolipids and proteoglycans can act as surface adhesion molecules in the olfactory system. The olfactory-specific form of the sialoglycoprotein neural cell adhesion molecule is implicated in olfactory neuronal and axonal guidance. Glycoconjugates including laminin, fibronectin and proteoglycans are abundant components of the olfactory extracellular matrix, influencing neurite outgrowth and cellular migration. Immunohistochemical labeling has revealed occurrence of the carbohydrate differentiation antigen, playing a role in neurulation and morphogenesis of the very early olfactory system. The synaptic vesicle glycoprotein, appearing also early in olfactory development, is used as a marker of olfactory tumors. Finally, membrane and transmembrane glycoconjugates as well as secreted glycoconjugates may act as olfactory receptor molecules.