For the first time, the electrical signals that make up the olfactory pathway have been measured, still little understood but fundamentally crucial, as evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. The result was obtained from the study published In the journal iScience led by the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste, in collaboration with the University of Trieste, the Aldo Moro University of Bari and the ENT Clinic of the Health Authority of Giuliano Isuntina University, which also investigated the different responses of various odor molecules, from those of eucalyptus to those of lemons . The research can help understand what happens in the event of an odor change, such as that associated with Covid, and thus develop appropriate treatments.
“Its physiology is very little known, yet smell is the sensation that accompanies us at all times. We understood its importance when it suddenly became the focus of our attention with the Covid-19 pandemic,” comments Anna Mennini, who coordinated the study. “Until now, no one has measured the electrical activity of cells, neurons and epithelial cells in healthy human tissues, which make up the epithelial tissue of our nose, where odor molecules are captured. This is exactly what we did in this new study. Thus – explains Mennini – we were also able to see How do these signals change in the presence of different odorant molecules: a study that has not been done before”.
The researchers also proved that the so-called supporting cells, those that surround the olfactory neurons, have a role that is only passive: “These cells – concludes Menini – seem to make an important contribution to the construction of the electrical message that will be sent to the brain leading to the perception of smell.”
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