The Human Body’s Olfactory and Chemo-Receptors

Odorants are defined as “an ingredient used to give a particular smell to a product.” (1) The human body is is covered with olfactory receptors (OR), all of  which work to boost the human sense of smell. The lack of smell or asnosmia is usually a symptom of accelerated aging,  Besides the OR found in the nose, the human body has a few hundred of these “chemoreceptors” scattered throughout its tissues.

In fact, a review of more than 200 studies, published by the American Physiological Society (APS), (2),asserts olfactory receptors, which can be described as “proteins that bind to odors that aid the sense of smell,” (3)  all of which perform a variety of functions outside the nose. Many of these functions are still being identified.

According to Medical News Today, in the APS study researchers used DNA tools to determine each type of bodily tissue has five to 80 olfactory receptors. They also noted distinct types of olfactory receptors — different from the ones housed in healthy cells — are found in abundance in cancer cells. (4). The study authors stated.

“Olfactory receptors (ORs) are not exclusively expressed in the olfactory sensory neurons; they are also observed outside of the olfactory system in all other human tissues tested to date, including the testis, lung, intestine, skin, heart and blood. (Source)

Within these tissues, certain ORs have been determined to be exclusively expressed in only one tissue, whereas other ORs are more widely distributed in many different tissues throughout the human body. (…) For most of the ectopically expressed ORs, limited data are available for their functional roles. They have been shown to be involved in the modulation of cell-cell recognition, migration, proliferation, the apoptotic cycle, exocytosis and pathfinding processes.” (5).

More research to identify the olfactory receptors is warranted and all the more so that a the odorants that trigger them are abundant.

“Unfortunately, the activating odorants of only about 50 of the 350 human olfactory receptors have been identified to date,” says Hatt (Source) (6).

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(1). Newsweek September 19, 2018

(2 ).  Physiological Reviews July 2018; 98(3): 1739-1763

(3). July 12, 2018

(4)  Medical News Today July 18, 2018



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