Hydrogen sulfide specifically alters NAD(P)H quinone dehydrogenase 1 (NQO1) olfactory neurons in the rat

Fumiaki Imamura, Timothy K. Cooper, Sanae Hasegawa-Ishii, Takashi Sonobe, Philippe Haouzi

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5 Scopus citations


The regions of the olfactory epithelium affected by hydrogen sulfide (H2S) toxicity in the rat present a striking similarity with the developmental olfactory zone 1 described in the mouse. This zone which is the only region containing neurons expressing NAD(P)H quinone dehydrogenase 1 (NQO1) is involved in complex behavioral responses in rodents, and other mammals, triggered by specific olfactory stimuli. We therefore sought to determine whether (1) olfactory neurons expressing NQO1 are located in the same regions in the rats and in the mice and (2) there is an overlap between olfactory neurons expressing this protein and those affected by the toxicity of H2S. Rats were exposed to H2S – 200 ppm during 3 h, three consecutive days- and displayed symmetric acute segmental necrosis of the neurons and sustentacular cells of the olfactory epithelium in the dorsomedial nasal cavity. We found that expression of NQO1 in Sprague–Dawley rats spatially recapitulated that of the mouse. The degree of agreement or overlap between these two populations of neurons (necrosis vs. NQO1 expression) reached 80.2%. Although the underlying mechanisms accounted for the high sensitivity for NQO1 neurons -or the relative protection of non NQO1 neurons- to sulfide toxicity remain to be established, this observation is offering an intriguing approach that could be used to acutely suppress the pool of neural cells in olfactory zone I and to understand the mechanisms of toxicity and protection of other populations of neurons exposed to sulfide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-112
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Dec 16 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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