The association between olfactory bulb volume, cognitive dysfunction, physical disability and depression in multiple sclerosis

Yaldizli, I. K. Penner, T. Yonekawa, Y. Naegelin, J. Kuhle, M. Pardini, D. T. Chard, C. Stippich, J. I. Kira, K. Bendfeldt, M. Amann, E. W. Radue, L. Kappos, T. Sprenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Background and purpose: Olfactory bulb atrophy is associated with cognitive dysfunction in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, and with major depression. It has been suggested that olfactory bulb atrophy or dysfunction is therefore a marker of neurodegeneration. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is now also recognized as having a significant neurodegenerative component. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate associations between physical and cognitive disability, depression and olfactory bulb volume in MS. Methods: In total, 146 patients with MS (mean age 49.0 ± 10.9 years, disease duration 21.2 ± 9.3 years, median Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score 3.0 (range 0-7.5), 103 relapsing-remitting, 35 secondary progressive and eight primary progressive MS) underwent a standardized neurological examination, comprehensive neuropsychological testing and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); data of 27 healthy people served as age- and gender-matched control subjects. The olfactory bulb was semi-automatically segmented on high-resolution three-dimensional T1-weighted MRI. Results: Mean olfactory bulb volume was lower in MS patients than healthy controls (183.9 ± 40.1 vs. 209.2 ± 59.3 μl; P = 0.018 adjusted to intracranial volume). Olfactory bulb volume was similar across clinical disease subtypes and did not correlate with cognitive performance, EDSS scores or total proton density/T2 white matter lesion volume. However, in progressive MS, the mean olfactory bulb volume correlated with depression scores (Spearman's rho = -0.38, P < 0.05) confirmed using a multivariate linear regression analysis including cognitive fatigue scores. This association was not observed in relapsing-remitting MS. Conclusion: Olfactory bulb volume was lower in MS than in healthy controls. Olfactory bulb volume does not seem to mirror cognitive impairment in MS; however, it is associated with higher depression scores in progressive MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-519
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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