Psychophysiological and Electrophysiological Testing of Olfactory and Gustatory Function in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2012 Apr;269(4):1163-9. doi: 10.1007/s00405-011-1812-7. Epub 2011 Nov 6.


The olfactory (OF) and gustatory function in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and possible influencing variables of the disease, such as depression or fatigue, were determined. In an open prospective controlled clinical study 30 patients with MS and 30 healthy controls matched for age, sex and smoking-habits were investigated. With Mini Mental State Examination cognitive dysfunction was excluded, with Expanded Disability Status Scale the patient's ability to accomplish the tests was ensured. The severity of depression was measured with the self-reported Beck Depression Inventory. The orthonasal olfactory function was derived with olfactory event related potentials (OERP) and TDI-score (Threshold, Discrimination and Identification, Sniffin' Sticks). Retronasal olfactory function was tested with Taste-Powder-score, gustatory function with Taste-strip-score. There was a significant loss of olfactory function measured with TDI-score [12/30 (40%), p = 0.002] and gustatory function [5/23 (21.7%), p < 0.001] in MS-patients, 23.8% (5/21) of MS-patients showed hyposmia with OERPs, significantly correlating with the TDI-score (p = 0.03). The Expanded Disability Status scale score inversely correlated with the TDI-score (p = 0.002). This study confirms the incidence of olfactory disorder in MS-patients and reveals a frequent gustatory deficit. The Identification subtest can be proposed as a marker of the OF in MS-patients: it includes complex cognitive tasks and may be influenced by depression and fatigue, which are common symptoms of MS. It inversely correlates with the disability status.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology
  • Olfaction Disorders / etiology
  • Olfaction Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Olfaction Disorders / psychology
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Taste Perception / physiology*