Involvement of Subcortical Brain Structures During Olfactory Stimulation in Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Marco Alessandrini, Alessandro Micarelli, Agostino Chiaravalloti, Ernesto Bruno, Roberta Danieli, Mariangela Pierantozzi, Giuseppe Genovesi, Johanna Öberg, Marco Pagani, Orazio Schillaci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) patients usually react to odour compounds and the majority of neuroimaging studies assessed, especially at the cortical level, many olfactory-related correlates. The purpose of the present study was to depict sub-cortical metabolic changes during a neutral (NC) and pure (OC) olfactory stimulation by using a recently validated 18F-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose (FDG)-positron emission tomography/computer tomography procedure in 26 MCS and 11 healthy (HC) resting subjects undergoing a battery of clinical tests. Twelve subcortical volumes of interest were identified by the automated anatomical labeling library and normalized to thalamus FDG uptake. In both groups, when comparing OC to NC, the within-subjects ANOVA demonstrated a relative decreased metabolism in bilateral putamen and hippocampus and a relative increased metabolism in bilateral amygdala, olfactory cortex (OLF), caudate and pallidum. The between-groups ANOVA demonstrated in MCS a significant higher metabolism in bilateral OLF during NC. As in HC subjects negative correlations were found in OC between FDG uptake in bilateral amygdala and hippocampus and odor pleasantness scale, the latter positively correlated with MCS subjects’ bilateral putamen FDG uptake in OC. Besides FDG uptake resemblances in both groups were found, for the first time a relative higher metabolism increase in OLF in MCS subjects at rest with respect to HC was found. When merging this aspect to the different subcortical FDG uptake correlations patterns in the two groups, the present study demonstrated to describe a peculiar metabolic index of behavioral and neurological aspects of MCS complaints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-252
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Topography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Automated Anatomical Labeling
  • Cognitive
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity
  • Olfaction
  • Olfactory cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anatomy
  • Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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