Anosmia can come from a local cause (the nasal cavity where the olfactory mucosa is located) or cerebral: the brain, under the effect of a dysregulation, can indeed lead to a loss of smell. One of the objectives of the study published in the journal Science Advances was to confirm one or the other of the hypotheses, to better understand how the virus enters the human host.
The result of the study is undoubtedly: SARS-CoV-2 does infect the respiratory cavity, via an enzyme whose role researchers have long suspected: the ACE 2 receptor. Component of several types of cells, such as cells strains and blood vessels, its role in our body is complex and essential. But it provides the coronavirus with a real “gateway” to enter our body.
The ACE2 receptor, outside the cell, allows the virus to attach itself to it, and open the cell to infect it. It is then that our sense of smell is disrupted, and with it that of taste. For the researchers, this confirms that our airways are not only where the virus is concentrated, but also that it does not normally infect neurons: good news, because the brain damage can then be much more severe. .