Brain lesions in multiple sclerosis could result in changes to the sense of taste.
Taste deficits appear to be more prevalent among multiple sclerosis (MS) patients than previously reported and correlate with brain lesions left by the debilitating disease, a new study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Smell and Taste Center and the department of Radiology found. The more lesions spotted on an MRI, the worse the taste function of the patient, the multi-institutional team reported in the Journal of Neurology.
The researchers, including lead author Richard Doty, PhD, director of Penn’s Smell and Taste Center and professor of Psychology in Otorhinolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, administered a standard taste test (sweet, sour, bitter, and salty) to 73 MS patients and 73 controls subjects, along with MRI of 52 brain regions known to be impacted by MS in both groups.
They found that the neurological disease significantly influenced the ability to identify tastes, especially salty and sweet. Fifteen to 32 percent of MS patients—which is nearly twice as high as previous studies found—had taste scores below the 5th percentile of controls. What’s more, taste scores were inversely correlated with lesion amounts and volumes in the large sectors of the frontal and temporal lobes, the higher regions of the brain, identified on the MRI.
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