COVID-19 and the Chemical Senses: Supporting Players Take Center Stage


The main neurological manifestation of COVID-19 is loss of smell or taste. The high incidence of smell loss without significant rhinorrhea or nasal congestion suggests that SARS-CoV-2 targets the chemical senses through mechanisms distinct from those used by endemic coronaviruses or other common cold-causing agents. Here we review recently developed hypotheses about how SARS-CoV-2 might alter the cells and circuits involved in chemosensory processing and thereby change perception. Given our limited understanding of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis, we propose future experiments to elucidate disease mechanisms and highlight the relevance of this ongoing work to understanding how the virus might alter brain function more broadly.

Neuron, 107(2), 219–233
Valentina Parma
Valentina Parma
Research Assistant Professor in Psychology