Skip to main content Accessibility help

The vomeronasal organ – incidence in a Bulgarian population

  • G Stoyanov (a1), K Moneva (a2), N Sapundzhiev (a2) and A B Tonchev (a1)



The vomeronasal organ is an accessory olfactory organ found in vertebrates that specialises in the chemoreception of pheromones. This study aimed to explore the existence and occurrence of the vomeronasal organ in adult humans.


A total of 966 consecutive video recordings of out-patient nasopharyngolaryngoscopies performed at the St Marina University Hospital, Varna, Bulgaria, were retrospectively reviewed.


Data analysis showed that from the evaluable cases, the organ was evident on the left side of the nasal septum in 14.93 per cent, on the right side in 21.15 per cent and bilaterally in 2.35 per cent of cases. The vomeronasal organ was present in a total of 26.83 per cent of the investigated subjects.


More research should be focused on revealing the incidence and functionality of the organ, and on its preservation in surgical manipulations that affect the nasal septum and other nearby structures.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr George Stoyanov, Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Medical University - Varna “Prof. Dr. Paraskev Stoyanov”, Varna, Bulgaria E-mail:


Hide All

Presented (in part) orally at the Black Sea Symposium for Young Scientists in Biomedicine, 27–30 March 2014, Varna, Bulgaria.



Hide All
1Keverne, EB. The vomeronasal organ. Science 1999;286:716–20
2Døving, KB, Trotier, D. Structure and function of the vomeronasal organ. J Exp Biol 1998;201:2913–25
3Kudjakova, TI, Sarycheva, NY, Kamensky, AA. Characteristics of exploratory behavior and the level of uneasiness of white nonpurebred rats after extirpation of the vomeronasal organ (VNO). Dokl Biol Sci 2007;414:208–11
4Eisthen, HL, Wysocki, CJ, Beauchamp, GK. Behavioral responses of male guinea pigs to conspecific chemical signals following neonatal vomeronasal organ removal. Physiol Behav 1987;41:445–9
5Knecht, M, Witt, M, Abolmaali, N, Huttenbrink, KB, Hummel, T. The human vomeronasal organ [in German]. Nervenarzt 2003;74:858–62
6Bhatnagar, KP, Smith, TD. The human vomeronasal organ. V. An interpretation of its discovery by Ruysch, Jacobson, or Kölliker, with an English translation of Kölliker (1877). Anat Rec B New Anat 2003;270:415
7Bhatnagar, KP, Smith, TD. The vomeronasal organ of Jacobson in the human embryo and fetus. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1979;88:119–23
8Smith, TD, Bhatnagar, KP. The human vomeronasal organ. Part II: prenatal development. J Anat 2000;197:421–36
9Lehman, MN, Newman, SW, Silverman, AJ. Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone in the vomeronasal system and terminal nerve of the hamster. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1987;519:229–40
10Won, J, Mair, EA, Bolger, WE, Conran, RM. The vomeronasal organ: an objective anatomic analysis of its prevalence. Ear Nose Throat J 2000;79:600–5
11Trotier, D, Eloit, C, Wassef, M, Talmain, G, Bensimon, JL, Doving, KB et al. The vomeronasal cavity in adult humans. Chem Senses 2000;25:369–80
12Gaafar, HA, Tantawy, AA, Melis, AA, Hennawy, DM, Shehata, HM. The vomeronasal (Jacobson's) organ in adult humans: frequency of occurrence and enzymatic study. Acta Otolaryngol 1998;118:409–12
13Smith, TD, Buttery, TA, Bhatnagar, KP, Burrows, AM, Mooney, MP, Siegel, MI. Anatomical position of the vomeronasal organ in postnatal humans. Ann Anat 2001;183:475–9
14Smith, TD, Siegel, MI, Burrows, AM, Mooney, MP, Burdi, AR, Fabrizio, PA et al. Searching for the vomeronasal organ of adult humans: preliminary findings on location, structure, and size. Microsc Res Tech 1998;41:483–91
15Estes, RD. The role of the vomeronasal organ in mammalian reproduction. Mammalia 1972;36:315–41
16Kratzing, J. The structure of the vomeronasal organ in the sheep. J Anat 1971;108:247–60
17Sapundzhiev, N. Digital oncology patient record - heterogeneous file based approach. J IMAB 2006;16:40–3
18Abolmaali, ND, Kühnau, D, Knecht, M, Kohler, K, Huttenbrink, KB, Hummel, T. Imaging of the human vomeronasal duct. Chem Senses 2001;26:35–9
19Wessels, Q, Hoogland, P, Vorster, W. Anatomical evidence for an endocrine activity of the vomeronasal organ in humans. Clin Anat 2014;27:856–60
20Dulac, C, Axel, R. Expression of candidate pheromone receptor genes in vomeronasal neurons. Chem Senses 1998;23:467–75
21Berliner, DL, Monti-Bloch, L, Jennings-White, C, Diaz-Sanchez, V. The functionality of the human vomeronasal organ (VNO): evidence for steroid receptors. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 1996;58:259–65
22Foltan, R, Sedy, J. Behavioral changes of patients after orthognathic surgery develop on the basis of the loss of vomeronasal organ: a hypothesis. Head Face Med 2009;5:5
23Dakrory, AI, Issa, AZ, Ali, RS. Nervi terminalis, vomeronasalis and olfactorius of Uromastyx aegyptius (squamata – lacertilia - agamidae). Life Sci J 2011;8:900–7
24Demski, LS, Northcutt, RG. The terminal nerve: a new chemosensory system in vertebrates? Science 1983;220:435–7
25Demski, LS. The evolution of neuroanatomical substrates of reproductive behavior: sex steroid and LHRH-specific pathways including the terminal nerve. Amer Zool 1984;24:809–30
26Smith, TD, Bhatnagar, KP, Shimp, KL, Kinzinger, JH, Bonar, CJ, Burrows, AM et al. Histological definition of the vomeronasal organ in humans and chimpanzees, with a comparison to other primates. Anat Rec 2002;267:166–76
27Bhatnagar, KP, Smith, TD, Winstead, W. The human vomeronasal organ: Part IV. Incidence, topography, endoscopy, and ultrastructure of the nasopalatine recess, nasopalatine fossa, and vomeronasal organ. Am J Rhinol 2002;16:343–50
28Wormald, R, Lennon, P, O'Dwyer, TP. Ectopic olfactory neuroblastoma: report of four cases and a review of the literature. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 2011;268:555–60
29Johnson, A, Josephson, R, Hawke, M. Clinical and histological evidence for the presence of the vomeronasal (Jacobson's) organ in adult humans. J Otolaryngol 1985;14:71–9
30Wysocki, CJ, Preti, G. Facts, fallacies, fears, and frustrations with human pheromones. Anat Rec A Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol 2004;281:1201–11
31Meredith, M. Human vomeronasal organ function: a critical review of best and worst cases. Chem Senses 2001;26:433–45



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed