The olfactory bulb volume in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease

Eur J Neurol. 2015 Jul;22(7):1068-73. doi: 10.1111/ene.12709. Epub 2015 Apr 23.


Background and purpose: This study addresses the question of whether the neuropathological findings on the olfactory bulb (OB) in idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD) correspond to a detectable change in volume of the OB. Additionally, the relationship between OB volume and residual olfactory function, clinical disease characteristics and age are investigated.

Methods: Fifty-two IPD patients were investigated and compared to 31 healthy age-matched controls. All participants were scanned using a 3 T magnetic resonance imaging MRI scanner including a T2 DRIVE sequence in coronal slices through the OB. The OB volumes were measured via manual segmentation of the OB. Olfactory testing was carried out using the Sniffin' Sticks test battery.

Results: The OB volume in the IPD group was 42.1 mm³ (SD ± 11.6) for the right and 41.5 mm³ (SD ± 11.7) for the left OB and showed no difference from the controls. Additionally, there were no significant correlations between OB volume and disease characteristics such as disease duration or Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale motor score. Likewise, patients' residual smell function did not correlate with their OB volume. In contrast, controls indicated a correlation between smell function and OB volume.

Conclusion: The study shows that high resolution MRI does not show a detectable volume loss of the OB in PD patients. It is concluded that OB measurement using in vivo high resolution MRI at 3 T is not helpful to identify IPD.

Keywords: Lewy body pathology; MR volumetry; idiopathic Parkinson's disease; non-motor symptoms; olfaction; olfactory bulb volume; olfactory dysfunction; smell function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olfactory Bulb / pathology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Smell / physiology*