Cancer is often treated with broad-spectrum cytotoxic drugs that not only eradicate cancerous cells but also have detrimental side effects. One of these side effects, disruption of the olfactory system, impedes a patient’s ability to smell, perceive flavor, and ultimately may interfere with their nutritional intake and recovery from cancer. Recent studies reported that the chemotherapy drug, cyclophosphamide (CYP), can damage gustatory epithelia and disrupt cell proliferation in olfactory epithelia. In this study, we asked if CYP altered globose and horizontal basal cell proliferation in the murine main olfactory epithelium (MOE) and vomeronasal organ (VNO). We used antibodies for Ki67, a marker strictly associated with cell proliferation, and Keratin 5, a marker for the cytoskeleton of horizontal basal cells. Our results revealed a significant CYP-induced decrease in the number of proliferative cells in both epithelia, especially globose basal cells in the MOE, within the first 1–2 days postinjection. Recovery of cell renewal was apparent 6 days after injection. The immunohistochemical markers showed significantly higher levels of globose and horizontal basal cell proliferation in CYP-injected mice at 14 and 30 days postinjection compared with control mice. The prolonged proliferative activation of globose and horizontal basal cells suggests that, besides altering proliferation of olfactory epithelia, the epithelial substrate needed for successful cell renewal may be adversely affected by CYP.

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