Mechanisms of olfactory dysfunction in aging and neurodegenerative disorders.
Although olfaction is the primal sense in animals, its importance in humans is underappreciated. Extensive literature demonstrates that aging is accompanied by olfactory loss and hyposmia/anosmia which is also a feature of several neurodegenerative disorders. Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases are characterized by severe olfactory deficits, while problems of olfactory discrimination are less prominent features in several other disorders. Olfactory loss is accompanied by structural abnormalities of the olfactory epithelium, the olfactory bulb and the central olfactory cortices. This review summarizes our present knowledge about the pathological changes in the olfactory system during aging and in various neurodegenerative diseases. Copyright 2003 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.