Blood/Lungs/Heart May be Able to "Smell" What We Eat
April 8, 2013 2:52 PM
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A scientist found olfactory receptors on blood, heart and lung cells
After a recent discovery, scientists are wondering if blood, lung and heart cells are
capable of smelling
what we consume.
Peter Schieberle, Ph.D., an international authority on food chemistry and technology, has found that cells located in the heart, blood and lungs have the same receptors as the nose, which are used for smelling the aromas around us.
In the back of the nose is the olfactory epithelium, which is covered in mucus and has
on specific cells. These olfactory receptors identify airborne chemical compounds and connect with them, which leads to biochemical occurrences that allow the brain to distinguish one odor from another.
"Our team recently discovered that blood cells -- not only cells in the nose -- have odorant receptors," said Schieberle. "In the nose, these so-called receptors sense substances called odorants and translate them into an aroma that we interpret as pleasing or not pleasing in the brain.
"But surprisingly, there is growing evidence that also the heart, the lungs and many other non-olfactory organs have these receptors. And once a food is eaten, its components move from the stomach into the bloodstream. But does this mean that, for instance, the heart 'smells' the steak you just ate? We don't know the answer to that question."
Schieberle tested the receptors by taking primary blood cells from a human blood sample and placing them on one side of a partitioned chamber. On the other side was a attractant odorant compound. The blood cells made their way toward the partition.
However, Schieberle is working to see if odor components work the same way in the body as they do in the nose.
Studies like this are working to understand why foods taste, smell and even feel appetizing or unappetizing to us.
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