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Post-Covid smell loss may be caused by nasal cell destruction

The reason some people fail to recover their sense of smell after Covid-19 is linked to an ongoing immune assault on olfactory nerve cells, a team of scientists at Duke University have found.

Researchers studied biopsied tissue from the lining of 24 Covid patients, including nine who had lost their sense of smell for at least four months.

Tissue from the latter group revealed that they had inflammation-driving immune cells inside the olfactory epithelium (the delicate nasal lining) combined with fewer olfactory nerve cells. The unusual immune response was seen despite the patients having no detectable Covid virus.

In a podcast interview with AbScent’s Chrissi Kelly, Bradley Goldstein, an associate professor in neurobiology at Duke University in North Carolina, and one of the researchers of this study, said: “The unresolved immune response in the nose of someone with long Covid symptoms has a look of an auto-immune phenomenon.”

Goldstein added that learning what sites are damaged and what cell types are involved is a key step toward beginning to design treatments.

He said: “I’m really excited by these findings. Yes, we know that damage is happening in the lining of the nose and we know some of the features of that damage. So now we can start to understand this in more detail and identify some treatment strategies.”


You can read the full research here.

You can listen to the full podcast with Bradley Goldstein and Chrissi Kelly here.

We offer more support for Covid-19 smell loss here.

March 27, 2023