But the nose is not the only place where there are olfactory receptors. Cells from other tissues utilizing these receptors to react to different chemicals. And its presence in the cells of the skin can, for example, accelerate wound healing.
Olfactory receptors are shown to exist in almost all human tissues, but its function outside the detection of aromas has only been demonstrated in a few types of cells, such as sperm, prostate or colon.
For example, activation of the olfactory receptors in sperm influences swimming direction and speed, while in the colon cells induces serotonin release.
The study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, we demonstrate that the olfactory receptors can also be found in keratinocytes (cells that form the outermost layer of the skin) and that activation of these receptors enhances the rate of proliferation and migration of these cells on the skin.
Researchers have found that the skin cells have a receptor responsive OR2AT4 called sandalwood aroma, which is often used in the incense stick. They were capable of activating this receptor using Sandalore, aroma synthetic sandalwood and have shown that activation of OR2AT4 receptor triggers a signal leading to increased calcium concentration in the cells, which, in turn, produces a increased proliferation and faster migration of the keratinocytes, which facilitates wound healing.
The results so far show that the olfactory receptors in human skin have potential therapeutic benefit, and understanding the mechanism could be a possible starting point for new drugs and cosmetics. The Sandalore, for example, could be used as a topical ointment with properties for accelerating wound healing.
But before this happens it is worth remembering that concentrated fragrances should be handled with care until it has been proven to work in different types of olfactory receptors in skin cells.
Image: «Epithelial-cells» by John Schmidt (user:JWSchmidt). - wikibooks Cell Biology textbook(licensed under the GFDL): http://wikibooks.org/wiki/Image:Keratin.jpg. Disponible bajo la licencia CC BY-SA 3.0 vía Wikimedia Commons.