Purpose of review: To discuss the unique properties of the olfactory epithelium and the potential use of olfactory epithelial grafts to restore olfactory function.
Recent findings: Sensory neurons in the olfactory epithelium undergo continuous regeneration, grow new axons, and reestablish connections with the olfactory bulb throughout life. When transplanted into different regions of the brain, olfactory epithelial graft cells retain their morphological and regenerative properties. Olfactory cells within the grafts grow axons that enter into the surrounding brain tissue. Recent studies have shown that the olfactory epithelium can be grafted directly to the olfactory bulb.
Summary: The olfactory epithelium has a remarkable capacity to continuously generate new sensory neurons and survives grafting into different regions of the brain. A review of the literature and the future use of olfactory grafts as a potential method to restore olfactory function is discussed.