Unlike the receptors in your nose, which are located in the membranes of nerve cells, the ones in your lungs are in the membranes of neuroendocrine cells. Instead of sending nerve impulses to your brain that allow it to “perceive” the acrid smell of a burning cigarette somewhere in the vicinity, they trigger the flask-shaped neuroendocrine cells to dump hormones that make your airways constrict.
The newly discovered class of cells expressing olfactory receptors in human airways, called pulmonary neuroendocrine cells, or PNECs, were found by a team led by Yehuda Ben-Sharar, PhD, assistant professor of biology and medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, and including colleagues Steven L. Brody and Michael J. Holtzman of the Washington University School of Medicine, and Michel J. Welsh of the Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa.
Read more at: Phys.org