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NSAID Receptor Responsible For Olive Oil’s ‘Cough’ And More

Posted Jan 18 2011 7:09pm

Scientists from the Monell Center and collaborators report that a receptor known as TRPA1 is activated by two structurally unrelated anti-inflammatory compounds. The first, oleocanthal, is a natural polyphenolic anti-inflammatory agent uniquely found in extra virgin olive oil; while the second, ibuprofen, is an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). The researchers also demonstrate that the TRPA1 receptor is spatially localized to the back of the throat, which is exactly where the distinctive irritating sting from olive oil is felt. This unique sensation and the accompanying ‘cough’ are regarded among connoisseurs as indicators of high quality olive oil.

“We believe that the TRPA1 receptor elicits cough to protect the lungs from chemical insult, for example from toxins in the air,” said Paul A.S. Breslin, Ph.D., one of the corresponding authors and a sensory biologist at Monell.

In 2005, Monell researchers and collaborators announced the discovery that oleocanthal is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory agent that inhibits activity of cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes, a pharmacological action shared by ibuprofen.

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