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Impaired Sense of Smell More Common With Lupus

Last Updated: May 18, 2009.

Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus may be more likely to have a decreased sense of smell compared to individuals without the condition, according to research published in the May issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) may be more likely to have a decreased sense of smell compared to individuals without the condition, according to research published in the May issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Netta Schoenfeld of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel-Hashomer, Israel, and colleagues analyzed data from 50 patients with SLE and an equal number of age- and sex-matched controls. The researchers used odor-dispensing devices to test threshold, discrimination, and identification of odors.

The authors found that 46 percent of the SLE group had a decreased sense of smell, compared to 25 percent of controls. Loss of smell was found only in the SLE group; 10 percent of this group was anosmic. Total threshold, discrimination, and identification scores were lower in patients with high SLE Disease Activity Index scores.

"Olfaction is hardly a familiar subject for rheumatologists and immunologists. However, based on the literature on smell deficits, data from our mouse model, and results of the current study, a possible role of an autoimmune mechanism in the pathogenesis of olfactory impairment may exist. Moreover, smell decrement has been found to be an early and predictive sign in several central nervous system diseases, and therefore, might be a useful and easy tool for the physician in early diagnosis of central nervous system involvement in autoimmune diseases," the authors conclude.

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