Journal of Neurology

, Volume 264, Issue 4, pp 631–638 | Cite as

Olfaction as a marker for depression

  • Ilona Croy
  • Thomas Hummel


Olfactory and emotional higher processing pathways share common anatomical substrates. Hence, depression is often accompanied by alterations in olfactory function. These alterations are negative in nature and may involve decreased activation in olfactory eloquent structures or decreased volume in the olfactory bulb (OB). We suggest that olfaction and depression interact in two ways. First, olfactory function in depression is impaired as a consequence of reduced olfactory attention and diminished olfactory receptor turnover rates. Second, the OB may constitute a marker for enhanced vulnerability to depression. Closer analysis of these interactions may help to explain observed experimental data, as well as to elucidate new therapeutic strategies involving olfaction. Because of the difficulties to disentangle cause from consequence in the relationship between olfaction and depression, longitudinal and intervention studies are necessary to elucidate this further.


Nose Smell Flavor Olfactory bulb Depression 



We would like to acknowledge the support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to TH (DFG HU441/18-1).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

None of the authors has a potential conflicts of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine, Carl Gustav Carus Faculty of MedicineTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Smell and Taste Clinic, Carl Gustav Carus Faculty of MedicineTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany

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