Journal of Neurology

, Volume 267, Issue 1, pp 138–143 | Cite as

Chemosensory decrease in different forms of olfactory dysfunction

  • Chloé Migneault-Bouchard
  • Julien Wen Hsieh
  • Marianne Hugentobler
  • Johannes Frasnelli
  • Basile Nicolas LandisEmail author
Original Communication


The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of olfactory dysfunction (OD) on the two other chemical senses, namely gustation and the intranasal trigeminal system. Taste and trigeminal function were analyzed in a retrospective cross-sectional study of 178 participants with OD (n = 78 posttraumatic, n = 42 idiopathic, n = 27 post-infectious and n = 31 chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) OD). All patients had been investigated for OD at our smell and taste outpatient clinic. Evaluation of olfaction was performed by means of the Sniffin’ Sticks test (odor threshold, odor discrimination and odor identification), whereas gustatory function was assessed with the Taste Strips test and the intranasal trigeminal sensitivity by means of the lateralization task. The degree of olfactory impairment was found to depend on the cause of OD, but not on patients’ age. Patients with posttraumatic OD showed lower olfactory function than patients with idiopathic, post-infectious and CRS OD (p = 0.01). Gustatory and trigeminal sensitivity in turn depended on age rather than the cause of olfactory dysfunction. Partial correlations between olfactory, gustatory, and trigeminal scores, with age as covariate, were significant, showing a decrease of taste and trigeminal function proportional to the OD (p < 0.05). The present data suggest that the three chemical senses are closely connected for humans underlining that in case of OD the remaining chemical senses (taste, trigeminal function) tend to decrease rather than compensate as this is seen for sensory loss in other modalities. This finding has direct clinical implications and importance when dealing with smell and taste disorders.


Olfactory Gustatory Trigeminal Chemosensory interaction Chemical senses 



This study was supported by Mitacs Globalink scholarship (CMB, IT13349), the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Santé (JF), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (JF), and the Chaire de Recherche UQTR en Neuroanatomie Chimiosensorielle (JF). BNL was supported by a grant of the Foundation AURIS (

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Chair in Chemosensory Neuroanatomy, Department of AnatomyUniversité du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR)Trois-RivièresCanada
  2. 2.Department of Clinical NeuroscienceGeneva University Hospitals (HUG)GenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.Rhinology-Olfactology Unit, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck SurgeryGeneva University Hospitals (HUG)GenevaSwitzerland
  4. 4.Research Center of the Sacré-Coeur HospitalMontrealCanada

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