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Olfactory impairment in mild cognitive impairment with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer's disease.

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Thomas, Alan J 
Barker, Sally 
Lawley, Sarah 


OBJECTIVES: Impaired olfaction may be a biomarker for early Lewy body disease, but its value in mild cognitive impairment with Lewy bodies (MCI-LB) is unknown. We compared olfaction in MCI-LB with MCI due to Alzheimer's disease (MCI-AD) and healthy older adults. We hypothesized that olfactory function would be worse in probable MCI-LB than in both MCI-AD and healthy comparison subjects (HC). DESIGN: Cross-sectional study assessing olfaction using Sniffin' Sticks 16 (SS-16) in MCI-LB, MCI-AD, and HC with longitudinal follow-up. Differences were adjusted for age, and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used for discriminating MCI-LB from MCI-AD and HC. SETTING: Participants were recruited from Memory Services in the North East of England. PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-eight probable MCI-LB, 33 MCI-AD, 19 possible MCI-LB, and 32HC. MEASUREMENTS: Olfaction was assessed using SS-16 and a questionnaire. RESULTS: Participants with probable MCI-LB had worse olfaction than both MCI-AD (age-adjusted mean difference (B) = 2.05, 95% CI: 0.62-3.49, p = 0.005) and HC (B = 3.96, 95% CI: 2.51-5.40, p < 0.001). The previously identified cutoff score for the SS-16 of ≤ 10 had 84% sensitivity for probable MCI-LB (95% CI: 69-94%), but 30% specificity versus MCI-AD. ROC analysis found a lower cutoff of ≤ 7 was better (63% sensitivity for MCI-LB, with 73% specificity vs MCI-AD and 97% vs HC). Asking about olfactory impairments was not useful in identifying them. CONCLUSIONS: MCI-LB had worse olfaction than MCI-AD and normal aging. A lower cutoff score of ≤ 7 is required when using SS-16 in such patients. Olfactory testing may have value in identifying early LB disease in memory services.



Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy, MCI, Sniffin’, dementia with Lewy bodies, mild cognitive impairment, olfaction, smell, Aged, Alzheimer Disease, Cognitive Dysfunction, Cross-Sectional Studies, Humans, Lewy Bodies, Lewy Body Disease, Olfaction Disorders

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Int Psychogeriatr

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Cambridge University Press (CUP)


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This work was supported by Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK-PG2015-13) and by the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre. GE Healthcare provided the FP-CIT ligand for this investigator-led study. The authors would like to acknowledge the support of Ms Helen Kain in the undertaking of this study, and the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and Cumbria for their support in recruiting participants. JOB is supported by the Cambridge NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and the Cambridge Centre for Parkinson’s Plus Disorders. LA is supported by the National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration South West Peninsula.