The olfactory receptor cell is characterized by a distal process (the dendrite) which terminates in the olfactory passage as the olfactory rod. The olfactory rod is provided with numerous cilia which are similar in structure to those seen in other tissues. The central processes of the bipolar cell constitute the fila olfactoria.
The cytoplasmic organelles of the sustentacular cell are concentrated at the apical and basal ends of the cell with a paucity of cytoplasmic elements in the region of the nucleus.
The plasma membrane of the supporting cell forms a mesaxon for both the dendrite and axon of the bipolar cell. Terminal bars are present in the epithelial cells.
The axons constituting the fila olfactoria form fascicles which are ensheathed by mesaxons of adjacent Schwann cells. Thus the olfactory neurons are ensheathed throughout their course by the membranes of sustentacular and Schwann cells.
Observations of the olfactory mucosa with the electron microscope are discussed with respect to recent electrophysiological studies.