Alzheimer’s Disease :: 10-item smell identification test for Alzheimer’s disease

A 10-item smell identification test seems to be useful for finding out if people with mild mental impairment are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to investigators.

“Our work, and that of other groups, has shown that problems with identifying common smells can be an effective early marker of the disease,” Dr. Matthias H. Tabert of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York.

Starting with the 40-item University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT), Tabert and his colleagues tested 147 patients with mild cognitive impairment, 100 with Alzheimer’s disease and 63 healthy controls. The aim was identify particular odors connected to a risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The result was a 10-item test featuring scents of menthol, clove, leather, strawberry, lilac, pineapple, smoke, soap, natural gas and lemon, according to the report in the Annals of Neurology.

The 10-item test performed as well as the larger UPSIT panel in identifying patients at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Narrowing the list of odors allows screening for smell deficits to occur in less than 5 minutes and thus makes it feasible for physicians to include this type of testing as part of their standard clinical work-up for patients at risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” Tabert pointed out.

Other testing also showed that incorrect responses to the 10 odors were consistently associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Given further positive findings, the researchers conclude that the 10-item approach “may in combination with other diagnostic tests help to improve early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.”

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