A near loss of smell may result from conductive and/or neural olfactory disorders. However, an olfactory test to selectively detect neural disorders has not been established. We investigated whether onset latency of sensory response to intravenous odor injection can detect neural disorders in humans and mice. We showed that longer preoperative onset latency of odor recognition to intravenous odor in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis predicted worse recovery of olfactory symptoms following sinus surgery. The onset latency of the olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) response to intravenous odor using synaptopHluorin signals from OSN axon terminals was delayed in mice with reduced numbers of OSNs (neural disorder) but not with increased mucus or blocked orthonasal pathways (conductive disorders). Moreover, the increase in onset latency correlated with the decrease in mature OSN numbers. Longer onset latency to intravenous odor injection is a useful biomarker for presence and severity of olfactory disorders with neural etiology.
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