Neuroanatomical correlates of olfactory loss in normal aged subjects

Behav Brain Res. 2013 Jun 1;246:148-53. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.02.025. Epub 2013 Feb 28.


In non-demented older persons, smell dysfunction, measured premortem, has been associated with postmortem brain degeneration similar to that of Alzheimer's disease. We hypothesized that distinct measures of gray and white matter integrity evaluated through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques could detect degenerative changes associated with age-related olfactory dysfunction. High-resolution T1-weighted images and diffusion-tensor images (DTI) of 30 clinically healthy subjects aged 51-77 were acquired with a 3-Tesla MRI scanner. Odor identification performance was assessed by means of the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT). UPSIT scores correlated with right amygdalar volume and bilateral perirhinal and entorhinal cortices gray matter volume. Olfactory performance also correlated with postcentral gyrus cortical thickness and with fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity levels in the splenium of the corpus callosum and the superior longitudinal fasciculi. Our results suggest that age-related olfactory loss is accompanied by diffuse degenerative changes that might correspond to the preclinical stages of neurodegenerative processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain Mapping
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Olfaction Disorders / pathology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / pathology*
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Verbal Learning / physiology