DOI: 10.1002/jemt.24392 ISSN: 1059-910X

Immunohistological study of the unexplored vomeronasal organ of an endangered mammal, the dama gazelle (Nanger dama)

Mateo V. Torres, Irene Ortiz‐Leal, Andrea Ferreiro, José Luis Rois, Pablo Sanchez‐Quinteiro
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Instrumentation
  • Histology
  • Anatomy


Dama gazelle is a threatened and rarely studied species found primarily in northern Africa. Human pressure has depleted the dama gazelle population from tens of thousands to a few hundred individuals. Since 1970, a founder population consisting of the last 17 surviving individuals in Western Sahara has been maintained in captivity, reproducing naturally. In preparation for the future implementation of assisted reproductive technology, certain aspects of dama gazelle reproductive biology have been established. However, the role played by semiochemical‐mediated communications in the sexual behavior of dama gazelle remains unknown due partially to a lack of a neuroanatomical or morphofunctional characterization of the dama gazelle vomeronasal organ (VNO), which is the sensory organ responsible for pheromone processing. The present study characterized the dama gazelle VNO, which appears fully equipped to perform neurosensory functions, contributing to current understanding of interspecies VNO variability among ruminants. By employing histological, lectin‐histochemical, and immunohistochemical techniques, we conducted a detailed morphofunctional evaluation of the dama gazelle VNO along its entire longitudinal axis. Our findings of significant structural and neurochemical transformation along the entire VNO suggest that future studies of the VNO should take a similar approach. The present study contributes to current understanding of dama gazelle VNO, providing a basis for future studies of semiochemical‐mediated communications and reproductive management in this species.

Research Highlights

This exhaustive immunohistological study of the vomeronasal organ (VNO) of the dama gazelle provides the first evidence of notable differences in the expression of neuronal markers along the rostrocaudal axis of the VNO.

This provides a morphological basis for the implementation of pheromones in captive populations of dama gazelle.

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