Scientists Have Found The Likely Cause Of Impaired Sense Of Smell In COVID-19

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Scientists Have Found The Likely Cause Of Impaired Sense Of Smell In COVID-19
Scientists Have Found The Likely Cause Of Impaired Sense Of Smell In COVID-19

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Scientists have found the likely cause of impaired sense of smell in COVID-19

In a study on mice, scientists discovered which cells of the olfactory epithelium the virus can infect

Scientists have found the likely cause of impaired sense of smell in COVID-19
Scientists have found the likely cause of impaired sense of smell in COVID-19

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Loss of smell (anosmia) has been recognized as a characteristic symptom of COVID-19. It is known to be more common with this infection than with other respiratory viral diseases. But the cause of anosmia in coronavirus infection remains unknown. Previously, on MRI images, scientists did not find changes in the structures of the brain in this pathology.

In a new scientific paper published in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience, which is published by the American Chemical Society, scientists hypothesized why the sense of smell is so selectively affected by the coronavirus.

In their study in mice, the scientists assumed that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus uses two human membrane proteins to enter the body. These proteins are angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) and the protease enzyme TMPRSS2. Previously, researchers did not know which cells of the olfactory epithelium contain these enzymes. Finding such cells could shed light on how coronavirus affects the sense of smell.

Scientists have found that ACE2 and TMPRSS2 are found in the supporting cells of the olfactory epithelium. These are the cells that make up the epithelial layer in which the olfactory cells are located. That is, the supporting cells themselves do not smell. But they play a significant role in supporting the metabolism of olfactory neurons, so scientists believe that their damage can lead to impaired sense of smell.

In elderly mice, both enzymes of interest to scientists were more represented in the olfactory epithelium than in young ones. The authors speculate that this may partially explain why older adults are more prone to COVID-19.

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