Published February 1, 2016 10:50 AM

Olfactory receptors found in Human blood

Human blood cells have olfactory receptors that respond to Sandalore. This could provide a starting point for new leukaemia therapies, as researchers from Bochum report in a current study.

Olfactory receptors exist not only in the nose, but also in many other parts of the body, including the liver, the prostate and the intestines. Researchers headed by Prof Dr Dr Dr Hanns Hatt from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have now demonstrated them in white blood cells in humans.

Together with colleagues from the Essen University Hospital, the Bochum-based group identified the receptor OR2AT4 in a cultivated cell line, taken from patients suffering from chronic myelogenous leukaemia. The researchers identified the same receptor in white blood cells isolated from blood freshly obtained from patients suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia. It is activated by Sandalore, a synthetic odorant with a sandalwood note.

In leukaemia patients, too many immature blood cells form in the spinal marrow. In myeloid leukaemia patients, the uncontrolled proliferation is triggered by a certain type of progenitor cells, namely the myeloblasts. 

The researchers analysed the OR2AT4 receptor in more detail, both in the cultivated cells and in the cells isolated from the blood of patients suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia. If the Sandalore odorant was used to activate the receptor, it effected an inhibition of leukaemia cell growth and caused greater numbers of them to die. The researchers, moreover, observed that more red blood cells formed as a result.

Red blood cells image via Shutterstock.

Read more at EurekAlert.

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