Aging-related olfactory loss is associated with olfactory stem cell transcriptional alterations in humans.

Journal Article (Clinical Trial;Journal Article)

BACKGROUNDPresbyosmia, or aging-related olfactory loss, occurs in a majority of humans over age 65 years, yet remains poorly understood, with no specific treatment options. The olfactory epithelium (OE) is the peripheral organ for olfaction and is subject to acquired damage, suggesting a likely site of pathology in aging. Adult stem cells reconstitute the neuroepithelium in response to cell loss under normal conditions. In aged OE, patches of respiratory-like metaplasia have been observed histologically, consistent with a failure in normal neuroepithelial homeostasis.MethodsAccordingly, we have focused on identifying cellular and molecular changes in presbyosmic OE. The study combined psychophysical testing with olfactory mucosa biopsy analysis, single-cell RNA-Sequencing (scRNA-Seq), and culture studies.ResultsWe identified evidence for inflammation-associated changes in the OE stem cells of presbyosmic patients. The presbyosmic basal stem cells exhibited increased expression of genes involved in response to cytokines or stress or the regulation of proliferation and differentiation. Using a culture model, we found that cytokine exposure drove increased TP63, a transcription factor acting to prevent OE stem cell differentiation.ConclusionsOur data suggest aging-related inflammatory changes in OE stem cells may contribute to presbyosmia via the disruption of normal epithelial homeostasis. OE stem cells may represent a therapeutic target for restoration of olfaction.FundingNIH grants DC018371, NS121067, DC016224; Office of Physician-Scientist Development, Burroughs-Wellcome Fund Research Fellowship for Medical Students Award, Duke University School of Medicine.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Oliva, AD; Gupta, R; Issa, K; Abi Hachem, R; Jang, DW; Wellford, SA; Moseman, EA; Matsunami, H; Goldstein, BJ

Published Date

  • February 15, 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 132 / 4

PubMed ID

  • 34990409

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8843745

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1558-8238

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1172/JCI155506


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States