Smell deficits in COVID-19 and possible links with Parkinson's disease

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Olfactory impairment is a common symptom in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the disease caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome—Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. While other viruses, such as influenza viruses, may affect the ability to smell, loss of olfactory function is often smoother and associated to various degrees of nasal symptoms. In COVID-19, smell loss may appear also in absence of other symptoms, frequently with a sudden onset. However, despite great clinical interest in COVID-19 olfactory alterations, very little is known concerning the mechanisms underlying these phenomena. Moreover, olfactory dysfunction is observed in neurological conditions like Parkinson's disease (PD) and can precede motor onset by many years, suggesting that viral infections, like COVID-19, and regional inflammatory responses may trigger defective protein aggregation and subsequent neurodegeneration, potentially linking COVID-19 olfactory impairment to neurodegeneration. In the following chapter, we report the neurobiological and neuropathological underpinnings of olfactory impairments encountered in COVID-19 and discuss the implications of these findings in the context of neurodegenerative disorders, with particular regard to PD and alpha-synuclein pathology.




Emmi, A., Sandre, M., Porzionato, A., & Antonini, A. (2022). Smell deficits in COVID-19 and possible links with Parkinson’s disease. In International Review of Neurobiology (Vol. 165, pp. 91–102). Academic Press Inc.

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