Olfactory testing does not predict β-amyloid, MRI measures of neurodegeneration or vascular pathology in the British 1946 birth cohort.

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To explore the value of olfactory identification deficits as a predictor of cerebral β-amyloid status and other markers of brain health in cognitively normal adults aged ~ 70 years.Cross-sectional observational cohort study. 389 largely healthy and cognitively normal older adults were recruited from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development (1946 British Birth cohort) and investigated for olfactory identification deficits, as measured by the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test. Outcome measures were imaging markers of brain health derived from 3 T MRI scanning (cortical thickness, entorhinal cortex thickness, white matter hyperintensity volumes); 18F florbetapir amyloid-PET scanning; and cognitive testing results. Participants were assessed at a single centre between March 2015 and January 2018.Mean (± SD) age was 70.6 (± 0.7) years, 50.8% were female. 64.5% had hyposmia and 2.6% anosmia. Olfaction showed no association with β-amyloid status, hippocampal volume, entorhinal cortex thickness, AD signature cortical thickness, white matter hyperintensity volume, or cognition.In the early 70s, olfactory function is not a reliable predictor of a range of imaging and cognitive measures of preclinical AD. Olfactory identification deficits are not likely to be a useful means of identifying asymptomatic amyloidosis. Further studies are required to assess if change in olfaction may be a proximity marker for the development of cognitive impairment.


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