Loss Of Smell Mat Be Early Sign Of Alzheimer’s

According to research conducted by New York University, people with Alzheimer’s are already known to suffer from loss of smell. But the new research pinpoints a direct link between development of amyloid plaques — the bits of gunk in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease — and a worsening sense of smell.

An estimated 70 percent of all nursing home residents have some degree of cognitive impairment.  

Every 72 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, about 454,000 new cases each year.  By mid-century, experts predicy someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds.

Researchers found that the plaques first develop in the part of the mouse brain that’s devoted to the sense of smell. When tested, the mice with the plaques had to spend more time sniffing odors to remember them, and they had a hard time telling the difference between odors. 

They noted that performance of the mouse in the olfactory behavior test was sensitive to even the smallest amount of amyloid presence in the brain as early as 3 months of age (equivalent to a young adult).  “This is a revealing finding because, unlike a brain scan, a laboratory-designed olfactory test may be an inexpensive alternative to early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s the medical experts noted. 

The findings are reported in the Jan. 13 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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