December 30, 2016
1 min read

Sniff test accurately screens for early Alzheimer's disease

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Odor identification may be an accurate and useful supplement to Alzheimer’s disease screening, according to recent findings.

“There’s the exciting possibility here that a decline in the sense of smell can be used to identify people at risk years before they develop dementia,” study researcher David R. Roalf, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a press release.

David Roalf, PhD
David R. Roalf

To assess utility of odor identification as a supplementary screening for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers administered the Sniffin’ Sticks Odor Identification Test and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment to 262 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, 174 with mild cognitive impairment and 292 healthy adults.

Sniffin’ Sticks odor scores were higher among healthy adults, compared with those with mild cognitive impairment (P < .0001) or Alzheimer’s disease (P < .0001).

Participants with mild cognitive impairment had better Sniffin’ Sticks odor scores compared with those with Alzheimer’s disease (P < .0001).

Individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment single domain had higher odor scores compared with those with amnestic mild cognitive impairment multiple domain, according to researchers.

Diagnostic accuracy was significantly improved when Sniffin’ Sticks Odor Identification Test scores were complemented with Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores.

“These results suggest that a simple odor identification test can be a useful supplementary tool for clinically categorizing [mild cognitive impairment] and Alzheimer’s, and even for identifying people who are at the highest risk of worsening,” Roalf said in the release. “We’re hoping to shorten the Sniffin’ Sticks test, which normally takes 5 to 8 minutes, down to 3 minutes or so, and validate that shorter test’s usefulness in diagnosing [mild cognitive impairment] and dementia — we think that will encourage more neurology clinics to do this type of screening.” – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: Please see the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.