Inflammation required for 'smell' tissue regeneration

In a mouse study designed to understand how chronic inflammation in sinusitis damages the sense of smell, scientists at Johns Hopkins say they were surprised to learn that the regeneration of olfactory tissue requires some of the same inflammatory processes and chemicals that create injury and loss of smell in the first place.

In a report on their findings, published in the August 8 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers say their work adds to scientific understanding of the way olfactory tissue recovers from damage triggered by viruses, toxic chemicals and gases, or allergens.

"The kind of inflammation associated with immune system reactions to fight infection or injury appears to be part of a single system linked to tissue regeneration, so that normal healing of the olfactory system can't happen without it," says Andrew Lane, M.D., professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "But more isn't always better, and continued inflammation will eventually have the opposite effect of killing olfactory neurons and inhibiting their regeneration, resulting in the loss of smell."

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