Chemotherapy patients often experience chemosensory changes during and after drug therapy. The chemotherapy drug, cyclophosphamide (CYP), has known cytotoxic effects on sensory and proliferating cells of the taste system. Like the taste system, cells in the olfactory epithelia undergo continuous renewal. Therefore, we asked if a single injection of 75 mg/kg CYP would affect cell proliferation in the anterior dorsomedial region of the main olfactory epithelium (MOE) and the vomeronasal organ (VNO) from 0 to 125 days after injection. Both epithelia showed a decrease in Ki67-labeled cells compared to controls at day 1 and no Ki67+ cells at day 2 postinjection. In the sensory layer of the MOE, cell proliferation began to recover 4 days after CYP injection and by 6 days, the rate of proliferation was significantly greater than controls. Ki67+ cells peaked 30 days postinjection, then declined to control levels at day 45. Similar temporal sequences of initial CYP-induced suppression of cell proliferation followed by elevated rates peaking 30–45 days postinjection were seen in the sustentacular layer of the MOE and all 3 areas (sensory, sustentacular, marginal) of the VNO. CYP affected proliferation in the sensory layer of the MOE more than the sustentacular layer and all 3 areas of the VNO. These findings suggest that chemotherapy involving CYP is capable of affecting cell renewal of the olfactory system and likely contributes to clinical loss of function during and after chemotherapy.

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