Olfactory dysfunction in Guamanian ALS, parkinsonism, and dementia

J. E. Ahlskog, S. C. Waring, R. C. Petersen, C. Esteban-Santillan, U. K. Craig, P. C. O'Brien, M. F. Plevak, L. T. Kurland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Objectives: To assess whether olfactory deficits are present in the general Guamanian Chamorro population and to evaluate olfaction in each of the four neurodegenerative disease syndromes of Guam: ALS, pure parkinsonism, pure dementia, and the combined parkinsonism-dementia complex (PDC). Background: Olfactory dysfunction was previously reported in patients with PDC of Guam. Methods: We developed a culturally adjusted olfactory test battery, derived from the original University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT), and administered this to Chamorro residents with ALS (n=9), pure parkinsonism (n=9), pure dementia (n=11), PDC (n=31), and 53 neurologically normal Chamorro and 25 North American control subjects. Results: Similar, marked olfactory dysfunction was found in all four syndromes of Guamanian neurodegenerative disease. This correlated poorly with measures of parkinsonism and cognition. In the neurologically normal Chamorro control group, six subjects (11%) had very low olfactory scores; these were less than the lowest North American score, raising a question of subclinical neurodegenerative disease. Conclusions: Marked olfactory deficits are common to all four Guamanian neurodegenerative syndromes, and suggest the possibility of similar central neuropathologic substrates. The deficit in the Guamanian ALS group contrasts with idiopathic ALS, in which olfactory function has been reported to be only slightly compromised.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1672-1677
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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