The olfactory mucosa is an organ made up of the olfactory epithelium and the mucosa, or mucus secreting glands, behind the epithelium. The mucus protects the olfactory epithelium and allows odors to dissolve so that they can be detected by olfactory receptor neurons. In mammals, the olfactory mucosa is located on the roof of the nasal cavity above and behind the nostrils.
In vertebrates, the olfactory epithelium consists of three basic cell types: bipolar olfactory receptor neurons; sustentacular cells, a type of supporting cell; and basal cells, the stem cells that continuously give rise to new olfactory receptor neurons and sustentacular cells.
Cells in the olfactory mucosa have been shown to have a degree of plasticity, and hold potential for therapeutic applications. Such cells have been used in clinical trials for adult stem cell therapeutic treatments, and successfully harvested for future applications. Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies