Olfactory deficits and executive dysfunction are early and common symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD). Previous studies have shown that hyposmia can be a first sign of PD. The aim of the present study was to determine which of three olfactory tests and two selected tests of executive function would be the best predictor of future PD over a 5 year period. In a cohort of 361 nonparkinsonian, nondemented first-degree relatives of PD patients, in whom alternative causes of olfactory dysfunction were excluded, we measured baseline performance on three olfactory and two executive function tasks. Five years from baseline, clinical neurological evaluation and/or a screening questionnaire, sensitive to the presence of Parkinsonism, were used to detect individuals developing clinical PD. Our results show that in first degree relatives of PD patients worse performance on each of three olfactory processing tasks was associated with an increased risk of developing PD within 5 years, whereas performance on selected tests of executive dysfunction was not associated with an increased risk of developing PD. Interestingly, impaired odor discrimination was the best predictor for future PD.
(c) 2009 Movement Disorder Society.