Anosmia as a Syndrome of COVID-19 Infection

Stavros Lomvardas, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Neuroscience, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics; Principal Investigator at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

We are investigating two possible explanation for the olfactory deficits caused by Covid-19 infections:

1. That the virus infects olfactory neurons through a different host receptor other than Ace2, because olfactory neurons do not express Ace2. We performed proteomic analysis of membrane proteins from olfactory neurons and identified proteins that interact with trimeric spike. We are waiting for the mass-spec results to identify these proteins.

2. That the virus infects non-olfactory neurons that express Ace2, the sustentacular cells of the olfactory epithelium. These cells secrete IFNgamma which induces downregulation of olfactory receptor expression.