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Olfactory Function and Diffusion Tensor Imaging as Markers of Mild Cognitive Impairment in Early Stages of Parkinson's Disease

Posted by Angie Kinsman, for Dr. Naeem Khan on November 29, 2021 in Neuroradiology

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Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that is typified by motor signs and symptoms but can also lead to significant cognitive impairment and dementia Parkinson's Disease Dementia (PDD). While dementia is considered a nonmotor feature of PD that typically occurs later, individuals with PD may experience mild cognitive impairment (PD-MCI) earlier in the disease course. Olfactory deficit (OD) is considered another nonmotor symptom of PD and often presents even before the motor signs and diagnosis of PD. We examined potential links among cognitive impairment, olfactory functioning, and white matter integrity of olfactory brain regions in persons with early-stage PD. Cognitive tests were used to established groups with PD-MCI and with normal cognition (PD-NC). Olfactory functioning was examined using the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) while the white matter integrity of the anterior olfactory structures (AOS) was examined using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) analysis. Those with PD-MCI demonstrated poorer olfactory functioning and abnormalities based on all DTI parameters in the AOS, relative to PD-NC individuals. OD and microstructural changes in the AOS of individuals with PD may serve as additional biological markers of PD-MCI.

Keywords: Parkinson's disease; diffusion tensor imaging; mild cognitive impairment; olfaction.


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