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Effects of statins on the recovery of olfactory function in a 3-methylindole‐induced anosmia mouse model

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Despite the importance of olfactory function, no effective medications have been identified to treat olfactory disorders. This study was performed to evaluate the functional recovery of olfaction damaged by 3-methylindole (3MI) in a mouse model with hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins).


In a randomized placebo-controlled trial, 24 healthy female BALB/c mice (aged 9‐10 weeks and weighing 18‐20 g each) were randomly allocated to statin-treated or control groups. Olfactory loss was induced by i.p. injections of 3MI. Atorvastatin (10 mg/kg) or normal saline was then administered per os with a gastric tube for 3 weeks. The effects of treatment were evaluated by food-finding tests and Western blot analysis.


Both groups showed complete losses of olfactory function 1 week after 3MI injection. Three weeks after 3MI injection, 9 of the 12 mice in the statin-treated group (75%) passed a food-finding test, in which they were able to find the food within 3 minutes, at least two times out of three trials. However, only two mice in the control group (16.6%) passed the food-finding test, and this difference was statistically significant (p = 0.004; chi-square test). The expression level of the olfactory marker protein was also elevated in the statin-treated group (p = 0.030; Wilcoxon rank sum test).


Statins are associated with recovery of olfaction after 3MI injection in a mouse model.
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Keywords: 3-methylindole; Behavioral research; Western blot; hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibitors; mice; olfaction disorders; olfactory marker protein; olfactory nerve; randomized controlled trial; smell

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Otorhinolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea

Publication date: 01 March 2012

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