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Odor Identification Impairment and Change with Cholinesterase Inhibitor Treatment in Mild Cognitive Impairment

Devanand, Devangere P.; Liu, Xinhua; Chunga, Richard E.; Cohen, Hannah; Andrews, Howard F.; Schofield, Peter W.; Stern, Yaakov; Huey, Edward D.; Choi, Jongwoo; Pelton, Gregory H.

Background: Anticholinergic challenge can induce odor identification impairment that indicates Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology, and short-term change in odor identification impairment with cholinesterase inhibitor (CheI) treatment may predict longer term cognitive outcomes. Objective: In patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) treated prospectively with donepezil, a CheI, for 52 weeks, to determine if 1) acute decline in odor identification ability with anticholinergic challenge can predict cognitive improvement, and 2) change in odor identification over 8 weeks can predict cognitive improvement. Methods: MCI was diagnosed clinically without AD biomarkers. At baseline, the University of Pennsylvania Smell identification Test (UPSIT) was administered before and after an anticholinergic atropine nasal spray challenge. Donepezil was started at 5 mg daily, increased to 10 mg daily if tolerated, and this dose was maintained for 52 weeks. Main outcomes were ADAS-Cog total score and Selective Reminding Test (SRT) total immediate recall score measured at baseline, 26 and 52 weeks. Results: In 100 study participants, mean age 70.14 (SD 9.35) years, atropine-induced decrease in UPSIT score at baseline was not associated with change in ADAS-Cog or SRT scores over 52 weeks. Change in UPSIT score from 0 to 8 weeks did not show a significant association with change in the ADAS-Cog or SRT measures over 52 weeks. Conclusion: These negative findings in a relatively large sample of patients with MCI did not replicate results in much smaller samples. Change in odor identification with anticholinergic challenge, and over 8 weeks, may not be useful predictors of cognitive improvement with CheI in patients with MCI.


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Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

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May 4, 2021