Led by researchers from NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Columbia University, the study with the pandemic virus, SARS-CoV-2, found that the infection caused by SARS indirectly dials down the action of olfactory receptors (OR), proteins on the surfaces of nerve cells in the nose that detect the molecules associated with odors. This new study not only sheds light on the reason for loss of smell, but also sheds light on the effects of Covid-19 on other types of brain cells, and on other lingering neurological effects of COVID-19 like “brain fog”, headaches, and depression.SARS-CoV-2 without background

The study involved analysis of olfactory tissue from human autopsies and experiments on golden hamsters, a species highly reliant on their sense of smell. The researchers observed that the virus triggers an increase of immune cells, which release cytokines altering the genetic activity of olfactory nerve cells. They suggest that that if olfactory gene expression ceases every time the immune system responds in certain ways that disrupts interchromosomal contacts, then the lost of sense of smell may act as an early signal that the COVID-19 virus is damaging brain tissue before other symptoms presents, and suggest new ways to treat it. However, these cells are not infected by the virus directly. These findings could have broader implications than it first seems. The persistence of immune reactions in the nasal cavity may influence cognitive functions and emotions because these olfactory neurons are connected to sensitive brain regions. The team’s next steps include creating treatments to protect the “nuclear architecture” of these cells and prevent long-lasting implications. This study aligns with many core topics in AP Biology, such as proteins, the immune system’s role in disease response, and the immune system’s interaction with neurons. It offers insight into the understanding of how cells communicate and respond to pathogens. It also delves into gene expression which illustrates how factors like viral infections can lead to changes in a cell’s genetic activity. This study represented a significant step in understanding the broader effects of COVID-19 and opens options for new treatment strategies. The Study also provides valuable insights into the functions of the immune system and neurons during a COVID-19 infection. The increase of immune cells and the release of cytokines in response to SARS-CoV-2 can alter the activity of olfactory nerve cells. This not only affects our sense of smell but also has more affects on brain function. The immune reaction in the nasal cavity could impact cognitive functions and emotional states because of the connection of olfactory neurons to sensitive brain regions. This understanding of how COVID-19 effects immune responses and neuronal changes is crucial as it helps scientists find new ways for treating the long term effects of COVID-19. Now this brings the question of if this study gives insight into how to treat patients with long term issues from Covid and how they will be treated.