Loss of Sense of Smell, Malnutrition Common in Kidney Disease Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Nigwekar and Dr. Paunescu

Dr. Nigwekar and                 Dr. Paunescu

Teodor Paunescu, PhD and
Sagar Nigwekar, MD
Division of Nephrology
Massachusetts General Hospital

 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Over 25 million people in the U.S. have chronic kidney disease, and the number of deaths caused by this disease has doubled between 1990 and 2010. It is projected that by 2030 more than 1 in 3 adults over 65 years old will be diagnosed with chronic kidney disease.

Many patients with kidney disease are also malnourished, which negatively impacts their quality of life, overall health, and even survival. However, no effective treatments are currently available to address malnutrition in these patients.

The sense of smell plays an important role in determining food flavor. If a patient’s ability to smell is impaired, this could affect the taste of food, for example, foods that used to appeal to the patient may no longer do so. Given the relation between the sense of smell and appetite, we set out to investigate the loss of smell in patients with kidney disease, and to test an intervention aimed at alleviating their smell deficits.

Our first goal was to determine if patients with various degrees of kidney disease suffer smell losses and whether smell issues might affect their nutritional status. We found that, while most kidney disease patients do not perceive a problem with their sense of smell, deficits in the ability to smell are actually common among these patients, and the severity of these deficits increases with the severity of their kidney disease. Moreover, our study found that reductions in several markers of nutrition (such as cholesterol and albumin levels) correlate with the impairment in these patients’ sense of smell.

Continue reading

Barriers to Healthful Eating Linked to More Rapid Kidney Function Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Deidra C. Crews, MD, ScM, FASN, FACP Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology Associate Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Medicine Director, Doctoral Diversity Program Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore MD 21224

Dr. Deidra Crews

Deidra C. Crews, MD, ScM, FASN, FACP
Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology
Associate Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Medicine
Director, Doctoral Diversity Program
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore MD 21224

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Studies suggest that dietary patterns influence risk of kidney function decline. Barriers may hinder urban African Americans’ following healthful diets that could mitigate their increased risk of kidney function decline.

In this study, we characterized contextual barriers to healthful eating among urban African Africans with hypertension and examined the association of these barriers to kidney function decline over 1 year. We examined the presence of healthy foods in neighborhood stores of study participants.

We also assessed them for food insecurity (the inability to afford nutritionally adequate and safe foods), directly observed and documented the presence of fruits and vegetables in their homes, and examined their fruit and vegetable intake via questionnaire.

Continue reading

The Nose Knows: How Our Brain Makes Sense of Odors

dr-justus-verhagenMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Justus V. Verhagen, Ph.D.
Associate Fellow, The John B. Pierce Laboratory
Associate Professor, Dept. Neurobiology,
Yale School Of Medicine
New Haven, CT 06519

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Verhagen: The study explores how the part of the brain that encodes odors (the Olfactory Bulb, OB) works. It is much studied, but much remains to be learned about the Olfactory Bulb.

It used to be thought that odors were encoded by spatial patterns of activity across the Olfactory Bulb alone. Due to advances in the resolution in imaging, it has become clear that odor coding is a highly dynamic process. We learned that after each sniff a pattern of activity evolves across the Olfactory Bulb, some areas activating sooner, some later. This suggested that the odor code is a spatial AND a temporal map, in other words, more like playing a brief movie than showing a brief picture after each sniff.

We tested whether this was true by using a relatively new method called “Optogenetics”, which allows us to accurately control the activity across the Olfactory Bulb.

Continue reading

Why Do Women Have A Better Sense of Smell?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Roberto Lent

Diretor, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas
Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Bloco K, sala 2-35
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Prof. Lent: Our group has been studying the absolute numbers of cells in the human brain, using a novel technique that we have developed. We have done it for
the whole male brain, and arrived at a figure of 86 billion neurons and 85
billion glial cells, 15% less than the round number that became a neuromyth
(one hundred billion neurons). We did it also for the demented brain, in
this case working with females, and showed that it is dementia that is
associated with a loss of neurons, because people with alzheimer, but no
dementia, displayed normal numbers of neurons.

The present paper focuses on sexual dimorphism in the olfactory bulb, and
revealed that women have around 40% more neurons and glial cells than men,
what correlates with their superior performance in many olfactory
abilities.
Continue reading

Losing Ability To Smell Raises Risk of Household Hazardous Events

Richard M. Costanzo, PhD. Professor of Physiology and Biophysics and Special Assistant to the Vice President for Research Virginia Commonwealth UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Richard M. Costanzo, PhD.
Professor of Physiology and Biophysics and
Special Assistant to the Vice President for Research
Virginia Commonwealth University


Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Costanzo: In this study we found that individuals with varying degrees olfactory impairment have an increased risk of experiencing a hazardous event.  Those with complete loss (anosmia) were three times more likely to experience an event than those with normal olfactory function.  Factors such as age,sex, and race were found to affect an individual’s risk.
Continue reading