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The Taste and Smell Clinic

February 2021

Cytokines in Hyposmic Patients

Cytokines are chemical moieties that play important roles in smell function. There are more than 25 such cytokines present in the body each with their own specific function. Some cytokines act as inflammatory or anti-inflammatory regulators of several aspects of smell function. Because of their chemical actions some cytokines can act as both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory substances.

Interleukin 10 (IL-10) is an anti-inflammatory cytokine present in most tissues of the body. It is responsible for much of the maintenance of the structural integrity of gustatory and olfactory system cells of the nasopharynx. IL-10 can be measured in both saliva and in nasal mucus.

We have measured IL-10 in nasal mucus of patients with hyposmia and have found levels of IL-10 to be significantly elevated in nasal mucus in hyposmic patients compared to normal controls. These results may reflect the role that IL-10 plays as an anti-inflammatory moiety in patients with hyposmia, reflective of the body’s attempt to maintain homeostasis in the olfactory epithelium to assist in maintaining normal smell function.