Olfactory bulb atrophy in migraine patients

Neurol Sci. 2019 Jan;40(1):127-132. doi: 10.1007/s10072-018-3597-6. Epub 2018 Oct 2.


Objective: Osmophobia and headache triggered by odors are commonly seen in migraine, and these are symptoms that differentiate migraine from other primary headaches. Since these odor-related symptoms are disease-specific, we aimed to measure the volume of olfactory bulb and depth of olfactory sulcus in migraine patients.

Patients and method: A total of 93 subjects, consisting of 62 episodic migraine (32 with osmophobia, 30 without osmophobia) patients and 31 healthy controls, were included in this study. Diagnosis and classification of migraine were performed according to the beta version criteria of International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD-3 Beta version). Beck depression and beck anxiety inventory were applied to the patients, and the measurement of bilateral olfactory bulb volume (OBV) and olfactory sulcus depth (OSD) was performed manually in the brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Results: More significantly in the left OBV, low OBV has been determined in migraine patients compared to the control group (p < 0.001, p = 0.020). When migraine patients with or without osmophobia were compared to the control group; OBV was determined to be the lowest in migraine group with osmophobia, and left-weighted bilateral OBV was determined to be low (p < 0.001, p = 0.046). No statistically significant difference was determined between groups in OSD measurements (p = 0.646, p = 0.490).

Conclusion: Left-weighted bilateral OBV atrophy determined in migraine patients may be guiding for the clarification of migraine pathophysiology and enlightening of the relation between migraine and odor.

Keywords: Migraine; Neurodegeneration; Olfactory bulb atrophy; Osmophobia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Olfaction Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Olfaction Disorders / epidemiology
  • Olfaction Disorders / physiopathology
  • Olfactory Bulb / diagnostic imaging*
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiopathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult