Loss of Smell and Taste Symptoms Could be Genetic

Loss of Smell and Taste Symptoms Could be Genetic

Estephania Anaya-Lopez

The loss of smell and taste is a well-known and recurring COVID symptom; however, up until now, we’ve yet to learn about what causes it.

A study published in the Nature Genetics journal attributes anosmia and ageusia (the loss of smell and taste, respectively) to a “genome-wide significant locus in the vicinity of the UGT2A1 and UGT2A2 genes.” Both of these genes express themselves in the olfactory epithelium– a tissue found in the nasal cavity that contains olfactory receptor cells (which seem to be what is altered during ageusia)–and “play a role in metabolizing odorants.”

The study was conducted with the self-reported information of 69,841 23andMe participants over 18 living in the USA or the UK. Results showed that women were more likely to have a loss of taste and smell as compared to men, as well as that younger participants suffered anosmia and ageusia with more frequency than those older than them (45 years and above); however, information is inclined towards those of European descent due to a limited source of data–possibly altering the verifiability of the results. Despite the knowledge they’ve gained, researchers continue to discover what bridges the gap between infection to loss of smell.