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Smell and Taste Researchers Present Findings at AChemS Annual Meeting
NIDCD-supported researchers presented the results of their most recent work at the annual Association for Chemoreception Scientists (AChemS) meeting in St. Pete Beach, Fla., in April.
Hong Wang, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia used a mouse strain that models lupus in humans to explore how the effects of chronic inflammation on taste tissues can contribute to the loss of taste. They noted increased levels of inflammation-promoting immune system cells in the tongue tissue in association with lower numbers of the kind of taste cells that respond to sweet, bitter, and umami, or savory, flavors. Taste buds also appeared smaller. The research provides new evidence linking autoimmune disease and chronic inflammation to selective changes in the structure and function of taste tissues in the tongue.
Daniel Wesson, Ph.D., discussed work conducted with colleagues at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, the NYU School of Medicine, and Case Western Reserve School of Medicine that proposes a pathological mechanism in the olfactory bulb that could play a key role in the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Using a mouse model that overexpresses a human mutation of a protein involved in making the plaques that form in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, Wesson and colleagues observed activity in the olfactory bulb that appeared to accelerate spread of plaques throughout the brain. Their findings offer three potential applications: a new diagnostic marker that could help doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s at earlier stages of the disease; a potential treatment to restore olfactory function in Alzheimer’s patients; and a novel pathway for exploring drugs that could, ideally, slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.