Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Inhale and feel it with your heart

All you need is love. Or failing that chocolate.
And not only because dark chocolate could lower the risk of heart disease, blood pressure and sugar levels. As Dr. Schieberle's team recently discovered that heart could sense and enjoy the sweet smell of chocolate too. When they put small odor-emitting molecules from chocolate on one side of a dish, cells actually moved towards the aroma.

The heart, the lungs, the blood, the sperm and testis all have the abilities to recognize chemicals responsible for smells. Genomic studies (Deldmesser et al, 2006) showed that many tissues have working genes responsible for the perception of flavors. Sperm of sea urchines is able to recognize the odor and swim toward the egg. Human sperm might very well be capable of "smelling" their way to the egg too. And white blood cells sense the odors of bacteria to rush to the site of infection in the wound. Unfortunately, cancer cells can also sense their way out of the tumor in the direction of blood vessels, leading to metastasis. Smells can guide social preferences, trigger positive or negative memories, help to lose weight, reduce anxiety or give you nightmares. Smells can make or brake, kill or heal. They can have therapeutic or diagnostic use helping to understand gene-environment health paradigms and paving new avenues for future health care strategies.

REFERENCES

Feldmesser E, Olender T, Khen M, Yanai I, Ophir R, & Lancet D (2006). Widespread ectopic expression of olfactory receptor genes. BMC genomics, 7 PMID: 16716209

Schieberle P, & Molyneux RJ (2012). Quantitation of sensory-active and bioactive constituents of food: A Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry perspective. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 60 (10), 2404-8 PMID: 22369090

Schieberle P., Do cells in the blood, heart and lungs smell the food we eat? 245th  Chemistry of Energy and Food, National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, New Orleans, LA, April 7-11, 2013



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