“ECTOPIC” GUSTATIVE AND OLFACTORY RECEPTORS IN THE BRAIN – NEW TARGETS FOR NEURODEGENERATION THERAPY?
FENG IFRIM-CHEN, DORIN DRAGOȘ, MARIUS MOGA*, ADRIAN BARBILIAN, MIRCEA LUPUȘORU, ANA MARIA OPROIU, ANTOINE EDU, MARILENA GILCA
Faculty of General Medicine, “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, 8 Eroilor Sanitari Boulevard, 76241, Bucharest, Romania
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Taste receptors (TR), as well as olfactory receptors (OR), have been recently detected in human brain, but their roles in nervous physiology are still unclear. The expression of these “ectopic” receptors is dysregulated in human subjects with neurodegenerative diseases, in a gradient compatible with disease staging. Various plant-derived tastants proved neuroprotective activity. Interestingly, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), medicinal plants activities are dependent on their flavour, which is the result of their blended gustative and olfactory properties. According with this ancient theory, various flavours have specific systemic therapeutic effects, mediated by the flavour itself. Bitter, sweet and pungent medicinal plants are used to treat neurodegenerative diseases in TCM. The purpose of this paper is to integrate the traditional and modern knowledge on neurodegenerative diseases and to elaborate a new (ethno)pharmacological hypothesis according to which one of the multiple mechanisms of action of the neuro-protective plant derived tastants may be mediated by the brain TRs and ORs.