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Igor Kratskin, MD, PhD

Igor KratskinResearch Associate Professor
Department of Otorhinolaryngology

Email: kratskin@mail.med.upenn.edu
Phone: (215) 349-8559
Fax: (215) 349-5266

  1. My current research focuses on investigating the physiological role of the amino acid taurine in olfaction.
  2. Taurine is abundantly present in the olfactory epithelium and olfactory bulb; however, its function and the sites of biosynthesis in these structures remain unknown.
  3. We developed antibodies to a taurine-synthesizing enzyme and carried out immunohistochemical studies in rats.
  4. Results of these studies suggest that olfactory sensory cells and various types of bulbar neurons are involved in taurine production.
  5. Electrophysiological studies in slices of rat olfactory bulb showed that taurine, by activating GABAA and presynaptic GABAB receptors, produces inhibition of principal neurons, mitral and tufted cells, and reduces their synaptic responses to olfactory nerve stimulation, but has no effects on local interneurons, periglomerular and granule cells.
  6. This suggests that taurine may serve to protect principal neurons of the bulb from hyperexcitation.
  7. Olfactory sensory neurons, due to their proximity to the external environment and continual replacement throughout life, may require the presence of taurine, which acts as a potent cell-protecting and neurotrophic factor.
  8. To test this hypothesis, we employ antisense technology in order to inhibit local translation of the taurine-synthesizing enzyme from specific mRNA and produce taurine deficiency in the olfactory epithelium.
  9. This project is entitled "Function of Taurine in the Primary Olfactory Pathway" and supported by the NIH Grant RO1 DC04083 (award period: 2/01/20001/31/2004).

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