January 09, 2006

Smell Deficits a possible marker for Schizophrenia susceptibility

New schizophrenia research published in December suggests that Smell identification deficits (that is, the lack of the ability to correctly identify smells) appear to exist in adolescents with psychotic disorders and are specifically related to schizophrenic features such as negative symptoms and lower intelligence, as has been seen in adults.

Dr. Cheryl Corcoran and colleagues from the New York State Psychiatric Institute therefore suggest that smell identification deficits may be useful for identifying people who are susceptible to develop schizophrenia.

The researchers examined smell identification, diagnosis, and neuropsychological performance and symptoms in 26 adolescents, aged between 11 and 17 years, with early-onset psychosis.

Of these, 13 had schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, five had major depression with psychotic features, three had bipolar disorder, and five had psychosis not otherwise specified (NOS).

The average University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) score for the participants was 32.1, which is in the 23rd percentile, indicating a group deficit when compared with average scores for mentally healthy adolescents of the same age.

Although the majority (53%) of the children had normal smell identification, almost half (46%) had a weakly developed sense of smell, called "microsmia". None of the adolescents had completely lost their sense of smell.

Dr. Corcoran and team suggest that "smell identification deficit may be a marker of an underlying neurodevelopmental pathophysiology that leads to vulnerability for schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders."

Source: Schizophr Res 2005; 80: 283–293


Post a comment

Please enter this code to enable your comment -
Remember Me?
(you may use HTML tags for style)
* indicates required