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Exp Aging Res. 2008 Jul-Sep;34(3):173-87. doi: 10.1080/03610730802070001.

Odor identification and progression of parkinsonian signs in older persons.

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  • 1Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center and Department of Neurological Sciences, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


The authors tested the hypothesis that difficulty in identifying odors, a common finding in Parkinson's disease, is associated with more rapid progression of parkinsonian signs in 743 community-dwelling older people without dementia or Parkinson's disease at study onset. Odor identification ability was assessed at baseline with the 12-item Brief Smell Identification Test (mean = 9.0 correct, SD = 2.1), and parkinsonism was assessed annually for up to 5 years with a modified version of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale. In an analysis adjusted for age, sex, and education, lower odor identification score was related to higher level of global parkinsonism at baseline (p < .001) and more rapid progression of global parkinsonism on follow-up (p = .002). This result mainly reflected an association of odor identification with worsening parkinsonian gait. The results suggest that impaired odor identification is associated with more rapid progression of parkinsonism in old age, particularly parkinsonian gait disturbance.

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