Clinical, virological and immunological evolution of the olfactory and gustatory dysfunction in COVID-19

Eugenia Maiorano, Anna Calastri, Carlo Robotti, Irene Cassaniti, Fausto Baldanti, Valentina Zuccaro, Edoardo Stellin, Virginia V. Ferretti, Catherine Klersy, Marco Benazzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: New-onset olfactory and gustatory dysfunction (OGD) represents a well-acknowledged COVID-19 red flag. Nevertheless, its clinical, virological and serological features are still a matter of debate. Materials and methods: For this cohort study, 170 consecutive subjects with new-onset OGD were consecutively recruited. Otolaryngological examination, OGD subjective grading, nasopharyngeal swabs (NS) for SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection and serum samples (SS) collection for SARS-CoV-2 IgG quantification were conducted at baseline and after one (T1), two (T2) and four weeks (T3). Results: SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed in 79% of patients. Specifically, 43% of positive patients were detected only by SS analysis. The OGD was the only clinical complaint in 10% of cases. Concurrent sinonasal symptoms were reported by 45% of patients. Subjective improvement at T3 was reported by 97% of patients, with 40% recovering completely. Hormonal disorders and RNA detectability in NS were the only variables associated with OGD severity. Recovery rate was higher in case of seasonal influenza vaccination, lower in patients with systemic involvement and severe OGD. Not RNA levels nor IgG titers were correlated with recovery. Conclusion: Clinical, virological and serological features of COVID-19 related OGD were monitored longitudinally, offering valuable hints for future research on the relationship between host characteristics and chemosensory dysfunctions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103170
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Immunoglobulins
  • RNA
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Viral load

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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