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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
2-Apr-2014

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Contact: Dr. John Boughter
jboughter@uthsc.edu
901-299-3221
Association for Chemoreception Sciences

AChemS 36th Annual Meeting: Smell and taste experts to discuss new discoveries

Bonita Springs, FL -- AChemS, a US-based scientific organization, is holding its 36th Annual Meeting; 500 scientists are gathering to present new information on the role of smell and taste in disease, nutrition, and social interactions in humans

Bonita Springs, FL—The Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS), a US-based scientific organization, is holding its 36th Annual Meeting. About 500 scientists are gathering to present new information on the role of smell and taste in disease, nutrition, and social interactions in humans as well as animals. Smell and taste play essential roles in our daily lives. These chemical senses serve as important warning systems, alerting us to the presence of potentially harmful situations or substances, including gas leaks, smoke, and spoiled food. Flavors and fragrances are also important in determining what foods we eat and the commercial products we use. The pleasures derived from eating are mainly based on the chemical senses. Thousands of Americans experience loss of smell or taste each year resulting from head trauma, sinus disease, normal aging, and neurological disorders, such as brain injury, stroke and Alzheimer's disease. By providing a better understanding of the function of chemosensory systems, scientific and biomedical research is leading to improvements in the diagnoses and treatment of smell and taste disorders.

Members of AChemS are arriving in Bonita Springs to present the latest findings generated from research on taste, smell and related issues (see program at http://www.achems.org/files/2014%20Annual%20Meeting/FINAL%202014%20AChemS%20Program.pdf). Research topics range from molecular biology to the clinical diagnosis and treatment of smell and taste disorders. Thirteen special-subject symposia, a plenary lecture, six poster sessions, and two workshops have been scheduled. During the four-day meeting 385 presentations will be made by scientists from around the world (see all scientific abstracts at http://www.achems.org/files/2014%20Annual%20Meeting/FINAL2014Abstracts.pdf).

2014 Press Abstracts

1. New tricks to stop mosquitoes from biting:

Female mosquitoes spread a number of deadly diseases among humans. New research is pinpointing what it is about humans that make us so attractive to mosquitoes. Our body odor and the carbon dioxide we exhale in each breath are both very attractive to mosquitoes. Recent discoveries have uncovered the receptors in the "nose" of the mosquito that helps them find us and tell us apart from animals. With this new understanding, it is possible to design new chemicals that will confuse mosquitoes, repel them from us, or attract them to traps where they are taken out of action (Contact Dr. Leslie B. Vosshall, leslie@mail.rockefeller.edu).

The symposium "Chemoreception in mosquitoes: Evolution, genomics, and control strategies" (#48) takes place Saturday, 12 April, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm ET in the Calusa Ballroom E-H.

Research support: Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

2. Sniffing out danger: Avoiding hazardous events without the benefit of smell:

The ability to smell contributes to the quality of life and provides important sensory information that warns us about potentially hazardous situations. Individuals with olfactory impairments - those who can't smell - are three times more likely to experience an olfactory-related hazardous event, such as undetected smoke or gas leak, burning pans, or ingestion of toxic substances or spoiled food, compared to individuals with normal smell function. Certain factors were linked to higher risk, including age, gender, race and extent of smell loss. Findings suggest that by providing focused risk counseling to olfactory-impaired patients, health care providers may help reduce an individual's personal risk of hazardous events (Contact Dr. Richard M. Costanzo, rcostanz@vcu.edu).

The poster presentation "Risk factors for hazardous events in olfactory impaired patients" (#P252/board 40AM) takes place Saturday, 12 April, 8:00 am – 10:00 am ET in the Estero Ballroom.

Research support: The Medarva Foundation.

3. Eavesdropping on immune responses using smell:

Studies have shown that infectious diseases can alter body odor and communicate the presence of illness. This suggests that any form of immune activation, including vaccination, may alter body odor. We demonstrated that urine odor of mice given a rabies vaccine could be distinguished from urine odor of non-immunized mice. We then found that mice treated with the immune system activator lipopolysaccharide produced an odor that differed from vaccination-induced odor. Our findings demonstrate that activation of the immune system alters body odor in detectable ways that may be diagnostic (Contact Dr. Bruce A. Kimball, bruce.a.kimball@aphis.usda.gov).

The poster presentation "Eavesdropping on immunity" (#P88/board 88PM) takes place Thursday, 10 April, 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm ET in the Estero Ballroom.

Research support: U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command: W81XWH-12-2-0081; U.S. Department of Agriculture: 11-7100-0336-CA.

4. How does fetal alcohol exposure increase alcohol palatability to adolescents?

Pregnant mothers are advised to avoid alcohol because even small amounts can alter their baby's development. One well-established effect of fetal alcohol exposure (FAE) is it increases the risk of alcohol abuse in adolescents. Our previous studies show it does so, in part, by making it taste better - but how? We measured the responsiveness of the peripheral taste system to alcohol and its flavor components (bitter and sweet), using adolescent rats with or without FAE. We found that FAE significantly reduced responsiveness to ethanol, quinine (bitter) and sucrose (sweet). Future studies should determine whether similar changes occur in humans (Contact Dr. John. I Glendinning, jglendin@barnard.edu).

The poster presentation "Fetal ethanol exposure diminishes chorda tympani nerve responses to some but not all taste stimuli in the adolescent rat" (#P178/board 74PM) takes place Friday, 11 April, 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm ET in the Estero Ballroom.

Research support: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH): AA017823.

5. Olfactory navigation in humans: Spatial orientation within an odor landscape:

Birds, such as pigeons, map space using the diffuse smells spread across a landscape. Our results suggest that humans can also map a location in a landscape using only their sense of smell. We tested blindfolded, deafened people navigating in a room where the air was diffused with two odors. We led them to a random location where they had one minute to smell the location. Later they could use all their senses to return to this location. When blindfolded, people navigated more accurately with odors than without. Thus, like birds, humans may naturally encode a location using odors (Contact Dr. Lucia Jacobs, Jacobs@berkeley.edu).

The poster presentation "Olfactory navigation in humans: spatial orientation within an odor landscape" (#P117/board 9AM) takes place Friday, 11 April, 8:00 am – 10:00 am ET in the Estero Ballroom.

Research support: National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (ECCS): 1028319.

6. Neurons associated with smell decrease with age in humans:

In humans, the ability to smell declines after the seventh decade. A loss of odor-detecting neurons is known to occur in adults, but the relationship with aging is unknown. We stained for these neurons in autopsy tissue ranging in age from 28 to 96 years and measured the labeled area. We found that these neurons are located in a specific region of the nasal cavity at all ages, but the total area of neurons diminishes with age. This implies that the declining ability to smell associated with aging is in part due to the progressive loss of neurons (Contact Dr. Eric H. Holbrook, eric_holbrook@meei.harvard.edu).

The poster presentation "Neuroepithelium reduces with age in human olfactory mucosa" (#P134/board 26AM) takes place Friday, 11 April, 8:00 am – 10:00 am ET in the Estero Ballroom.

Research support: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH): R01DC010242.

7. Sniffing out information on our unique odor worlds:

Did you ever wonder why you dislike an odor while another person loves it? Coffee and other common odors are mixtures of many different odorant molecules. Each molecule activates specific combinations of sensors called olfactory receptors (ORs). With over 400 OR types, does the loss of one affect how we perceive an odor? The answer: yes. We find that the number of functional ORs a person has impacts how intense or pleasant they find an odor to be. For example, people with a gene for a nonfunctional form of olfactory receptor 10G4 perceive the smoky odor guaiacol, a component of coffee odor, to be less intense and more pleasant. Our work suggests that genetic differences in ORs contribute to unique olfactory worlds for us all (Contact Dr. Casey Trimmer, ctrimmer@monell.org).

The poster presentation "The Role of a Single Olfactory Receptor in Odor Perception" (#P276/board 65PM) takes place Saturday, 12 April, 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm ET in the Estero Ballroom.

Research support: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH): R03DC11373, R01DC1339, and T32DC000014.

8. Prenatal cocaine exposure impairs olfactory and learning ability as an adult:

Learning deficits during development and adolescence have been linked with prenatal cocaine exposure. In particular, odor-milk associations in neonates are impaired. To examine the persistence of cognitive and odor sensory deficits, we challenged prenatally-exposed male mice with computer-regulated behavioral tests when they reached adulthood. Our olfactometry and learning paradigm indicates a 25% reduction in odor discrimination and an inability to reversal learn. Such impairments demonstrate significant long-term consequences for cognitive flexibility and sensory ability following in utero drug exposure (Contact Genevieve Bell, gbell@mail.neuro.fsu.edu).

The poster presentation "Prenatal cocaine exposure elicits adult deficits in olfaction and cognitive flexibility" (#P247/board 35AM) takes place Saturday, 12 April, 8:00 am – 10:00 am ET in the Estero Ballroom.

Research support: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH): R01DC003387 and T32DC00044; National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the NIH: R01DA020796.

9. The bamboo-eating giant panda has a sweet tooth:

As part of a larger effort to compare taste function and dietary choices across species, we previously reported that many strict meat-eating species have lost the ability to taste sweet sugars. This likely happened because meat-eaters have no need to maintain a functional sweet taste system. In this study, we examined sweet taste detection in the giant panda, which exists almost exclusively on non-sweet bamboo. By comparing consumption of sugar water with plain water, we found that giant pandas can detect sweet taste and that they like it. These findings help us understand taste perception and dietary choices for this rare and endangered species (Contact Dr. Peihua Jiang, pjiang@monell.org).

The oral presentation "The bamboo-eating giant panda has a sweet tooth" (#15) takes place Thursday, 10 April, 8:10 pm – 8:24 pm ET in the Calusa Ballroom A-C.

Research support: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH): DC0101842 and 1P30DC011735; Institutional funds from the Monell Chemical Senses Center.

10. A potential origin of food cravings in pregnancy:

Pregnancy produces a dramatic elevation of various hormones. These hormones pass through the bloodstream and can act in the body wherever receptors are expressed. We investigated the presence of such receptors within taste buds, their level of expression during the onset of pregnancy, and the mechanism for taste preference changes observed as food cravings while pregnant. Our findings indicated that physiological changes during pregnancy are also found at the taste bud level. Further studies may reveal taste as a useful strategy to promote healthy offspring by influencing the maternal diet (Contact Ezen Choo, ec649@cornell.edu).

The poster presentation "Pregnancy alters hormone receptor mRNA levels in mouse taste buds" (#P235/board 23AM) takes place Saturday, 12 April, 8:00 am – 10:00 am ET in the Estero Ballroom.

Research support: Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Startup Funds.

11. Correlation of obesity and reduced reward network activation to pleasant tastes:

Diet is known to be a major contributing factor for obesity. However, why do some people prefer high calorie food and drink? Is it possible that the perception and processing of tastes in their brains are different to others'? The investigators at the Pennsylvania State University tried to answer these questions by studying the brain activities of 29 normal-weight and overweight healthy adults using functional MRI. They found a significant correlation between overweight and reduced activity in the brain reward system responding to pleasant tastes. This is important because it demonstrates a possible role of taste in obesity (Contact Dr. Jianli Wang, jwang2@hmc.psu.edu).

The poster presentation "Correlation of obesity and reduced reward network activation to pleasant tastes" (#P254/board 42AM) takes place Saturday, 12 April, 8:00 am – 10:00 am ET in the Estero Ballroom.

Research support: Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons.

12. Humans can discriminate more than one trillion olfactory stimuli:

The human sense of smell does not get the respect it deserves, new research suggests. In an experiment led by Andreas Keller, of Rockefeller University, researchers tested volunteers' ability to distinguish between complex mixtures of scents. Based on the sensitivity of these people's noses and brains, the team calculated the human sense of smell can detect more than 1 trillion odor mixtures. One trillion is far more than the previously generally accepted number of 10,000 distinguishable smells. For comparison, researchers estimate the number of colors we can distinguish at between 2.3 and 7.5 million and audible tones at about 340,000 (Contact Dr. Andreas Keller, Andreas.Keller@rockefeller.edu).

The poster presentation "Humans can discriminate more than one trillion olfactory stimuli" (#P120/board 12AM) takes place Friday, 11 April, 8:00 am – 10:00 am ET in the Estero Ballroom.

Research support: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program: UL1TR000043.

13. Do rodents dream of odorized sheep?

Sleep is pervasive throughout most of the animal kingdom -- even jellyfish and fruit flies do it. Although the function of sleep remains elusive, research increasingly suggests that sleep plays a key role in memory formation and modification. Recent studies have shown that memories learned while awake and in the presence of a background odor can be specifically targeted and reactivated if that same odor is delivered during slow-wave sleep. This symposium will bring together cutting-edge research spanning different disciplines and model organisms, to highlight the interface between smells, sleep, behavior, and the brain (Contact Dr. Jay Gottfried, j-gottfried@northwestern.edu).

The symposium "Do rodents dream of odorized sheep? The role of sleep in enhancing olfactory perception, learning, and behavior" (#22) takes place Friday, 11 April, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm ET in the Calusa Ballroom E-H.

Research support: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH): R01DC010014 and R01DC013243.

14. How prevalent are taste and smell problems in adults? New data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

In a new protocol starting in January 2011, NHANES began asking adult participants to self-rate their smell and taste abilities in the home interview, which was followed in 2012 by brief taste and smell testing in a mobile exam center. From just released interview results, 19% reported diminished ability to smell, and 6% reported phantom smell sensations. Adults with nasal/sinus problems were most likely to report smell problems. About 16% reported diminished taste or flavor sensations, and 5% experienced persistent tastes. Adults with dry mouth were most likely to report taste problems. The preliminary 2012 exam results will provide more definitive estimates of the prevalence of smell and taste disorders. Ultimately, we anticipate the ongoing NHANES Taste and Smell component to provide evidence as to whether taste and smell ability is associated with differences in dietary consumption and rates of chronic diseases (Contact: Dr. Valerie Duffy, Valerie.duffy@uconn.edu).

The symposium "Chemosensory function and the assessment of the health and nutritional status of adults in the United States: History, implementation and future opportunities" (#42) takes place Saturday, 12 April, 12:30 am – 1:45 pm ET in the Calusa Ballroom E-H.

Research support: National Institutes of Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Interagency Agreement (Y1DC0013) with CDC/NCHS for support of the NHANES Chemosensory (Taste and Smell) Protocol.

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Media Contacts:

Dr. Debra Ann Fadool, Chairman, Public Information and Affairs Committee; e-mail: dfadool@bio.fsu.edu. Before 9 April and after 12 April: Phone 850.644.4775; April 9, 2014, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, Bonita Springs, FL; Phone 1.239.444.1234 and 850.241.6392 (cell).

Dr. John Boughter, Co-Chair, Public Information and Affairs Committee; e-mail: jboughter@uthsc.edu. Before 9 April and after 12 April: Phone 901.448.1633; April 9, 2014, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, Bonita Springs, FL; Phone 1.239.444.1234 and 901.299.3221 (cell).



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