The olfactory neuroepithelium, which lines the posterior nasal cavity, is exposed to a wide range of odorants and airborne toxic compounds. Odorants, which are mostly small lipophilic molecules, enter the mucus flow and reach the odorant receptors on sensory neurons. Odorant sensing is generally a transient process, requiring an effective signal termination, which could be provided by biotransformation of the odorant in the epithelial supporting cells. Xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes in the olfactory epithelium have been suggested to catalyze inactivation and facilitate elimination of odorants.
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