Brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases: potential role(s) of brain olfactory receptors

To everyone’s surprise, olfactory receptors, long confined only to organs linked to the sense of smell, were recently found in many organs, including the brain. But the brain does not “smell” them because odors do not penetrate this tissue. It is therefore logical to assume that these brain olfactory receptors play a different role, as yet unknown.
Our team belongs to a small number of research groups that identified olfactory receptor expression in the brain. By studying the brains of mice that mimic Alzheimer’s disease, we demonstrated the presence of these receptors in several areas. Their expression is related to the stage of the disease. Some are overexpressed while others are under-expressed. Understanding what these olfactory receptors do in the brain could be of great therapeutic value.
It is very likely that these receptors are activated by other molecules specific to the brain or pathology. Indeed, neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by neuronal death associated with chronic inflammation. Inflammation releases cytokines and interleukins that may interact with these receptors. Potentially, these olfactory receptors may become markers of brain pathologies. Furthermore, one can envisage that they could become therapeutic targets to treat and/or slow down disease progression.

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