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Neuroimage Clin. 2019;22:101757. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2019.101757. Epub 2019 Mar 12.

Evidence for impaired olfactory function and structural brain integrity in a disorder of ciliary function, Usher syndrome.

Author information

1
Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Life Sciences (CNC.IBILI), University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Institute of Nuclear Sciences Applied to Health (ICNAS) and Coimbra Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Life Sciences (CIBIT), University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.
2
Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Hospitais da Universidade de Coimbra, Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.
3
Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Life Sciences (CNC.IBILI), University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, London, United Kingdom; Institute of Nuclear Sciences Applied to Health (ICNAS) and Coimbra Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Life Sciences (CIBIT), University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.
4
Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Life Sciences (CNC.IBILI), University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.
5
Institute of Nuclear Sciences Applied to Health (ICNAS) and Coimbra Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Life Sciences (CIBIT), University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.
6
Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Life Sciences (CNC.IBILI), University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Institute of Nuclear Sciences Applied to Health (ICNAS) and Coimbra Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Life Sciences (CIBIT), University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal. Electronic address: mcbranco@fmed.uc.pt.

Abstract

Diseases involving cilia dysfunction, such as Usher Syndrome (USH), often involve visual and auditory loss. Psychophysical evidence has suggested that this may also hold true for the peripheral olfactory domain. Here we aimed to go a step further by attempting to establish relations between the integrity of cortical structures and olfactory function in this condition. We investigated olfactory function for USH types 1 (USH1) and 2 (USH2). Bilateral olfactory bulb (OB) volume and olfactory sulcus (OS) depth were also analysed. Thirty-three controls with no previous olfactory deficits were age, sex and handedness-matched to 32 USH patients (11 USH1, 21 USH2). A butanol detection threshold test was performed to measure olfactory function. For OB volume and OS depth, morphometric measurements were performed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) based on detailed segmentation by three independent operators. Averaged values across these were used for the statistical analyses. Total intracranial volume was estimated using Freesurfer to account for head size variability. Olfactory threshold was significantly lower in controls when compared to USH, USH1, and USH2. OS depth was found to be shallower in both hemispheres in USH patients when compared with the control group. OB volume was not significantly different between control and USH groups, or respective subgroups. Nevertheless, butanol threshold was negatively correlated with the left OB volume for the USH type 1 subgroup. The main effect of OS depth reduction was found to be mainly due to the comparison between USH2 and controls. Our results provide evidence for morphometric changes and olfactory dysfunction in patients with USH. This correlated with a reduction in left OB volume in the USH1 subgroup, the most severe USH phenotype. The main effect of reduced OS depth was found to stem mainly from USH2 raising questions regarding a possible complex interaction between sensory olfactory loss and central cortical changes in this disease.

KEYWORDS:

Brain; MRI; Olfaction; Smell; Usher syndrome

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