Do hearts have a sense of smell?
Your sense of smell may not be limited to just your nose. New research from German food chemist Peter Schieberle at the Technical University of Munich and the German Research Center for Food Chemistry determined that the same aroma sensors found in the nose are also present in other organs, such as the heart, lungs and blood.
The nose is able to sense aromas when airborne chemical compounds from the environment (i.e. freshly baked bread or an old gym shoe) bind to olfactory receptors within the nose. This binding prompts a chain reaction between the receptors and the brain, which ultimately tells the brain what something smells like.
For a long time, researchers thought these receptors existed only in the nose, but this research suggests that they may be present throughout the body and actually help carry out specific functions.
For example, sperm cells also contain odor receptors that they use to help locate an egg. The new findings conclude that even human blood cells have odor receptors that are attracted to particular molecules within the body. Schieberle said that it is unclear if odor receptors in other organs work in the same way as they do in the nose. He hopes that further research will provide an answer.