A computational study of odorant transport and deposition in the canine nasal cavity: implications for olfaction.
ABSTRACT Olfaction begins when an animal draws odorant-laden air into its nasal cavity by sniffing, thus transporting odorant molecules from the external environment to olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) in the sensory region of the nose. In the dog and other macrosmatic mammals, ORNs are relegated to a recess in the rear of the nasal cavity that is comprised of a labyrinth of scroll-like airways. Evidence from recent studies suggests that nasal airflow patterns enhance olfactory sensitivity by efficiently delivering odorant molecules to the olfactory recess. Here, we simulate odorant transport and deposition during steady inspiration in an anatomically correct reconstructed model of the canine nasal cavity. Our simulations show that highly soluble odorants are deposited in the front of the olfactory recess along the dorsal meatus and nasal septum, whereas moderately soluble and insoluble odorants are more uniformly deposited throughout the entire olfactory recess. These results demonstrate that odorant deposition patterns correspond with the anatomical organization of ORNs in the olfactory recess. Specifically, ORNs that are sensitive to a particular class of odorants are located in regions where that class of odorants is deposited. The correlation of odorant deposition patterns with the anatomical organization of ORNs may partially explain macrosmia in the dog and other keen-scented species.