Chemosensory loss in COVID-19

Winnie Xu, Gulshan Sunavala-Dossabhoy, Andrew I. Spielman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus quickly spread globally, infecting over half a billion individuals, and killing over 6 million*. One of the more unusual symptoms was patients' complaints of sudden loss of smell and/or taste, a symptom that has become more apparent as the virus mutated into different variants. Anosmia and ageusia, the loss of smell and taste, respectively, seem to be transient for some individuals, but for others persists even after recovery from the infection. Causes for COVID-19-associated chemosensory loss have undergone several hypotheses. These include non-functional or destroyed olfactory neurons and gustatory receptors or of their supporting cells, disruption of the signaling protein Neuropilin-1, and disruption in the interaction with semaphorins, key molecules in the gustatory and olfactory axon guidance. The current paper will review these hypotheses and chart out potential therapeutic avenues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2337-2346
Number of pages10
JournalOral Diseases
Issue numberS2
StatePublished - Jul 14 2022


  • COVID-19
  • SARS CoV-2
  • chemosensory disorders
  • olfaction
  • smell loss
  • taste
  • taste loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • General Dentistry


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