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Neurology. 1991 May;41(5 Suppl 2):77-80; discussion 80-1.

Odor identification deficit of the parkinsonism-dementia complex of Guam: equivalence to that of Alzheimer's and idiopathic Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.


Olfactory dysfunction is among the first signs of Alzheimer's disease (AD), idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD), and the parkinsonism-dementia complex (PDC) of Guam. We have recently demonstrated that the odor identification and detection deficits of patients with PD are equivalent to those of patients with mild AD when subtle differences in cognitive function are statistically controlled for by analysis of covariance. In contrast, patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and patients with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced parkinsonism evidence olfactory function much more similar to that of normal controls. In the present study, we administered the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test and the Picture Identification Test to 24 patients with early signs of the PDC of Guam and statistically compared their test scores to those of 24 early-stage AD and 24 early-stage PD patients of similar age and gender from the United States mainland. Although the PDC group evidenced slightly more difficulty in identifying pictures than did the other 2 groups, the odor identification deficit associated with this disorder was of the same magnitude as that observed in AD and PD, suggesting that olfactory testing cannot be used to distinguish among these 3 diseases and that the olfactory dysfunction of these disorders may reflect a common neurologic substrate.

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