Complex community: Researchers study the nasal microbiome
People apparently have a much finer nose than was long thought. It should be able to perceive up to a trillion smells. If the sense of smell is disturbed, the quality of life is severely impaired. Researchers from Austria have now dealt with the connection between the nasal microbiome and the sense of smell.
Disorders of the sense of smell affect the quality of life
A few years ago, researchers from the USA reported on their study, according to which the nose not only perceives 10,000 different smells, but also about a trillion (1,000,000,000,000) smells. If the olfactory cells do not work properly, the quality of life is considerably reduced. Because disorders of the sense of smell mean a massive restriction in the everyday life of those affected. Scientists from the Karl-Franzens-University Graz and the Medical University Graz have now dealt with the connection between the nasal microbiome and the sense of smell. The results currently published in the scientific reports magazine suggest that the microbiome composition correlates with the sense of smell.
Microbiome: A complex community
The entirety of all microorganisms that colonize the body can be summarized under the term “microbiome”, reports the Karl-Franzens University Graz on its website.
For example, if there are already many scientific studies on the gut microbiome, relatively little is currently known about the microbiome of the nose. But why is microbiome research such an exciting topic for science at all?
"In medical research, the connection between the microbiome and the development of diseases is of particular interest," explains Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dr. Christine Moissl-Eichinger, Professor of Interactive Microbiome Research at the Medical University of Graz.
"The bacteria, fungi or other microbes associated with us can reflect the state of health, or even increase or decrease the risk of illness," said the expert.
It is also quite possible that not a single genus of bacteria, but a combination or an interaction of different germs is relevant for the development of diseases.
The composition of the microbiome influences the sense of smell
A well-functioning sense of smell plays a decisive role in personal quality of life. As scientific studies have shown, the microbiome is heavily involved in the development of the olfactory mucosa and thus in the olfactory function.
Together with Univ.-Prof. DI Dr. Veronika Schöpf, Professor of Neuroimaging, Institute of Psychology at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz, Christine Moissl-Eichinger and her teams have examined this connection in more detail.
"In a total of 67 healthy volunteers, we investigated the connection between the olfactory function and the nasal microbiome," says Christine Moissl-Eichinger.
28 subjects showed normal olfactory function, 29 people had a good sense of smell and ten subjects suffered from a restricted sense of smell.
As the two scientists observed, the composition of the nasal microbiome differed significantly within these three groups of subjects.
"In particular, we were able to determine that especially butyric acid-producing microorganisms can be associated with an impaired olfactory function," said the researchers in unison.
On the basis of these test results, they suspect further connections between the microbial community in the olfactory mucosa with the olfactory function, or that the microbiome composition is able to directly influence the olfactory function.
The researchers will investigate this connection in the coming years. (ad)