Clinicoradiological features in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients with olfactory dysfunction

Michihito Masuda, Hirohisa Watanabe, Aya Ogura, Reiko Ohdake, Toshiyasu Kato, Kazuya Kawabata, Kazuhiro Hara, Ryoichi Nakamura, Naoki Atsuta, Bagarinao Epifanio, Masahisa Katsuno, Gen Sobue


Objective: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult-onset neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor neuron involvement. Although olfactory dysfunction has been described in ALS, clinicoradiological features associated with the olfactory dysfunction remain poorly understood. 

Methods: We enrolled 30 patients with ALS and age- and sex-matched 53 healthy controls (HCs). All participants underwent the odor stick identification test for Japanese (OSIT-J) and clinical assessments, including disease duration, ALSFRS-R, site of onset, forced vital capacity, and cognitive examinations that reflected the general, executive, memory and language function. We investigated the associations between OSIT-J score and clinical features and examined atrophic changes by voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis to MRI. 

Results: The OSIT-J score was significantly lower in ALS patients than HCs (6.9 ± 3.2 vs. 9.8 ± 1.9, p < 0.001). In ALS, there were significant relationships between OSIT-J score and age at examination, frontal assessment battery, word fluencies, digit span forward, and ADAS-Jcog recognition, but not education, disease type, duration, ALSFRS-R and, %VC. Multiple regression analysis with stepwise method showed the only ADAS-Jcog recognition substantially predicted OSIT-J score. VBM analysis with age, sex, total intracranial volume, and ADAS-Jcog recognition as covariates showed OSIT-J scores were substantially correlated with atrophic changes of left orbital cortex consisting of gyrus rectus and medial orbital gyrus and right hippocampus in ALS. 

Conclusion: ALS patients could show substantial olfactory dysfunction in association with orbital cortex and hippocampus involvements. The olfactory examination could be a useful marker for screening of frontotemporal alteration in ALS.

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