Imaging Studies of Olfaction in Health and Parkinsonism

Sammanfattning: Olfactory loss is a common non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease (PD), often preceding the cardinal motor symptoms of the disease. The aim of this thesis was to: (a) evaluate whether olfactory examination can increase diagnostic accuracy, and (b) study the structural and functional neural basis of olfactory dysfunction in PD with different applications of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).Paper I was a comparison of the diagnostic accuracy between a simple smell identification test and DaTSCAN Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography (SPECT), a nuclear medicine tomographic imaging technique that is commonly used in patients with suspected parkinsonism. The results indicate that smell test is inferior to DaTSCAN SPECT, but the combination of these two methods can lead to improved diagnostic accuracy.Paper II showed that diffusion MRI could detect discrete microstructural changes in the white matter of brain areas that participate in higher order olfactory neurotransmission, whereas MRI with Magnetization Transfer contrast could not.Paper III was a methodological study on how two different acquisition parameters can affect the activation pattern of olfactory brain areas, as observed with functional MRI (fMRI). The results indicate that brief olfactory stimulation and fast sampling rate should be preferred on olfactory fMRI studies.Paper IV used olfactory fMRI and resting-state fMRI in order to elucidate potentially altered activation patterns and functional connectivity within olfactory brain areas, between PD patients and healthy controls. Olfactory fMRI showed that olfactory impairment in PD is associated with significantly lower recruitment of the olfactory network. Resting-state fMRI did not detect any significant changes in the functional connectivity within the olfactory network of PD patients.In conclusion, the included studies provide evidence of: (a) disease-related structural and functional changes in olfactory brain areas, and (b) beneficial addition of olfactory tests in the clinical work-up of patients with parkinsonism.

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