Olfactory thresholds are associated with degree of dementia in Alzheimer's disease

Neurobiol Aging. 1990 Jul-Aug;11(4):465-9. doi: 10.1016/0197-4580(90)90014-q.


Recent neuroanatomical studies have noted that regions of the olfactory pathways contain high levels of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease; and that the olfactory epithelium, the most peripheral level of the system, exhibits anatomical and biochemical changes in Alzheimer's disease. The present experiments investigated thresholds for olfactory and taste stimuli in patients with Probable Alzheimer's disease. Olfactory thresholds of Alzheimer's patients were significantly elevated relative to controls and were significantly correlated with scores on dementia scales. Taste thresholds of Alzheimer's patients were within normal limits and unrelated to scores on dementia scales. These results suggest that increased olfactory thresholds in patients with Alzheimer's disease reflect the effects of the disease process and, thus, may aid in the diagnosis and in the understanding of Alzheimer's disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurofibrils / pathology
  • Olfactory Pathways / pathology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Taste Threshold / physiology