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Immunol Res. 2014 Dec;60(2-3):201-7. doi: 10.1007/s12026-014-8573-5.

Olfactory impairment in patients with the fibromyalgia syndrome and systemic sclerosis.

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Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, 52621, Tel Aviv, Israel,


Patients with autoimmune diseases often present with olfactory impairment. The aim of the study was to assess the olfactory functions of female patients with fibromyalgia (FM) compared with patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) and with healthy female controls. Olfactory functions were assessed in 24 patients with FM, 20 patients with SSc and 21 age-matched healthy controls. The sense of smell was evaluated using the Sniffin' Sticks test including the three stages of smell: threshold, discrimination, and identification (TDI) of the different odors. The severity of fibromyalgia was assessed using the fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ). The short form 36 (SF-36) questionnaire was also completed in order to seek a relationship between the patients perception of quality of life and the different aspects of the smell sense. Depression was evaluated in both FM and SSc patients utilizing the Beck depression inventory-II (BDI-II) questionnaire. Patients with FM had significantly lower TDI smell scores compared with both SSc patients and healthy controls (p < 0.005, One-Way ANOVA). Hyposmia (defined as TDI scores below 30) were observed in 14 of 24 (42 %) patients with FM compared to 3 of 20 (15 %) patients with SSc and 1 of the healthy controls (4.3 %) (p < 0.02). FM patients had significantly lower thresholds of smell compared to both healthy controls and patients with SSc (p < 0.001), whereas for patients with SSc only the ability to discriminate between odors was impaired (p < 0.006). We could not detect any statistical correlation between smell abilities and clinical manifestation of SSc or the FIQ and SF-36 scores among FM patients. However the correlation between depression, defined by the BDI-II score, and the sense of smell differed between patients with FM and patients with SSc. As only among SSc patients a lower sense of smell correlated with a higher BDI-II score (p = 0.02). Our findings suggest that there is a decrease in the sense of smell both in FM and SSc patients compared with healthy controls. However these impairments differ between patients group and might represent different mechanisms that affect the sense of smell.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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