Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Sniffing Out Symptoms

Model for studying viruses that affect sense of smell and taste

14 November 2022

Sniffing Out Symptoms

A loss of taste and smell seems like a relatively innocuous symptom of COVID-19, but it can have lasting impacts on mental health, and is indicative of the virus’ capacity to infect our central nervous system. Researchers interested in the mechanism behind olfactory and neurological COVID consequences examined PHEV, a coronavirus that infects and affects suckling pigs in a similar way. They discovered that PHEV invaded a mouse central nervous system via direct infection of the olfactory nerves (linked to smell) and trigeminal nerves (which provide sensation to your face) in the nose. Through close observation (pictured, cells lining the nasal cavity of an infected mouse, with olfactory neurons in red and cells that bind to PHEV in green) they observed viral material travelling along nerve cells, found links between viral replication and the immune response, and highlighted the potential of this model for learning more about coronavirus infection

Written by Anthony Lewis

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