Presentation Details
Olfactory dysfunction predicts the development of depression in older US adults

Yazan Eliyan1, Kristen E.Wroblewski2, Martha K.McClintock3, 4, Jayant M.Pinto5.

1Pritzker School of Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.2Department of Public Health Sciences, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.3Department of Comparative Human Development, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.4Department of Psychology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.5Section of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA


Olfaction is linked to mood due to neuroanatomic connections between the olfactory and limbic systems. Some (but not all) prior studies have shown that olfactory dysfunction is associated with increased depressive symptoms. However, these studies were cross-sectional and thus unable to shed light on the directionality of the relationship. We aimed to test whether impaired olfaction caused increased depressive symptoms over time.   We assessed olfaction and depression in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a nationally-representative, longitudinal study of older U.S. adults. Olfactory function was measured using a validated odor identification test (5 Sniffin’ Sticks). Depressive symptoms were measured using a survey version of the validated Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) scale. Multivariate logistic regression models, accounting for demographics, comorbidities, alcohol use, smoking, and cognition, tested the association between olfactory dysfunction and depression.   Older adults with olfactory dysfunction were more likely to have depression at baseline (OR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.04 - 1.42). Among adults without comorbidities, those with olfactory dysfunction at baseline had increased odds of developing depression at 5- or 10-year follow-up (OR = 2.22, 95% CI = 1.13 - 4.37). Conversely, those with depression at baseline did not have significantly increased odds of developing olfactory dysfunction at 5- or 10-year follow-up, regardless of health status (OR = 1.21, 95% CI = 0.81 - 1.82).   We show for the first time that olfactory dysfunction predicts the development of depression in older U.S. adults. These data support screening for depression in older adults with olfactory impairment and set the stage for disentangling the relationship between olfaction and depression.

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