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The Nose Isn't the Only Part of the Human Body That Can Smell

Update Date: Apr 08, 2013 03:02 PM EDT

Research suggests the nose does not hold the only olfactory sense in the human body. Cells may actually have the same odor receipting sense our nose is equipped with. 

The human nose is an epithelium for airborne chemical compounds which sense smell by connecting airborne molecules with receptors. This creates a chain of biochemical sequences that cause the brain to register an odor.

Researchers have discovered that blood cells actually possess the same odor receptors as the nose. Scientists isolated primary blood cells from human blood samples and placed an attractant odorant compound on one side of a partitioned multi-well chamber and placed blood cells on the other side. They found that the blood cells were actually attracted to the odorant and moved toward the neighboring chamber.

"Once odor components are inside the body, however, it is unclear whether they are functioning in the same way as they do in the nose," said Peter Schieberle, one of the researchers and an expert on food chemistry and technology. "But we would like to find out."

The researchers are currently trying to understand chemically why some odors are pleasing and others are not. The nose uses G-protein coupled receptors which translates sensation into perception in the brain in order to tell the quality of a food. The human body has about 1,000 receptors, 800 of which are G-protein coupled receptors. Half of the G-protein coupled receptors can sense and translate aroma, but only 27 are taste receptors.

Further research needs to be conducted in order to see understand how these receptors function inside the body.

The findings were announced at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. 

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