Background: Olfactory dysfunction is a nonmotor symptom of Parkinson disease (PD) associated with reduction in quality of life. There is no evidence on whether improvements in olfaction after subthalamic deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) may be directly attributable to motor improvement or whether this reflects a direct effect of DBS on olfactory brain areas. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of DBS on olfactory function in PD, as well as to explore the correlation between these changes and changes in motor symptoms and brain metabolism.
Methods: Thirty-two patients with PD were screened for STN-DBS. Patients were evaluated before and 1 year after surgery. Primary outcome was the change in olfactory function (Sniffin' Sticks odor-identification test [SST]) after surgery among the patients with hyposmia at baseline. Secondary outcomes included the relationship between motor outcomes and olfactory changes and [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography analysis between subgroups with improvement versus no improvement of smell.
Results: STN-DBS improved SST after surgery (preoperative SST, median 7.3 ± 2.4 vs. postoperative SST, median 8.2 ± 2.1; P = 0.045) in a subset of patients among 29 of 32 patients who presented with hyposmia at baseline. The improvement in SST was correlated with DBS response (r = 0.424; P = 0.035). There was also an increase in glucose metabolism in the midbrain, cerebellum, and right frontal lobe in patients with SST improvement (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: STN-DBS improves odor identification in a subset of patients with PD. Motor improvement together with changes in the brain metabolism may be linked to this improvement.
Keywords: Deep brain stimulation; Olfaction; Parkinson disease.
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