The human vomeronasal organ. III. Postnatal development from infancy to the ninth decade.
The large literature on the human vomeronasal organ (VNO) offers little consensus as to its persistence in the adult. We have already documented the existence of the VNO from embryonic day 33 through the neonatal stages. This has now been extended to human adults: 27 cadaver nasal septa, aged 2-86 y, were either dissected or decalcified, serially sectioned, stained and examined. The consistent presence of the VNO is reported as a homologue, in the form of a duct-like structure on the nasal septum at all ages. Also reported are size variability, pronounced bilateral asymmetry, a nonchemosensory pseudostratified ciliated epithelium with considerable structural variation and generally without medial-lateral differentiation, nasal septal glands opening into the VNO lumen, a lack of correlation between postnatal age and VNO size, visualisation of the human VNO with certainty by histological means alone, and a minute opening as its only visible surface feature. The human VNO is a discrete structure that should not be confused with the nasopalatine fossa, the septal mucosal pits or VNO openings.