The pseudostratified olfactory epithelium (OE) may histologically appear relatively simple, but the cytological relations among its cell types, especially those between olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and olfactory sustentacular cells (OSCs), prove more complex and variable than previously believed. Adding to the complexity is the short lifespan, persistent neurogenesis, and continuous rewiring of the ORNs. Contrary to the common belief that ORN dendrites are mostly positioned between OSCs, recent findings indicate a sustentacular cell enwrapped configuration for a majority of mature ORN dendrites at the superficial layer of the OE. After vertically sprouting out from the borderlines between OSCs, most of the immature ORN dendrites undergo a process of sideways migration and terminal maturation to become completely invaginated into and enwrapped by OSCs. Trailing the course of the dendritic sideways migration is the mesodendrite (mesentery of the enwrapped dendrite) made of closely apposed, cell junction connected plasma membrane layers of neighboring folds of the host sustentacular cell. Only a minority of the mature ORN dendrites at the OE apical surface are found at the borderlines between OSCs (unwrapped). Below I give a brief update on the cytoarchitectonic relations between the ORNs and OSCs of the OE. Emphasis is placed on the enwrapment of ORN dendrites by OSCs, on the sideways migration of immature ORN dendrites after emerging from the OE surface, and on the terminal maturation of the ORNs. Functional implications of ORN dendrite enwrapment and a comparison with myelination or Remak’s bundling of axons or axodendrites in the central and peripheral nervous system are also discussed.
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