Taste and smell losses in HIV infected patients.

Journal Article (Clinical Trial;Journal Article)

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) associated wasting is an increasingly common clinical manifestation of AIDS. The pathogenesis of wasting is multifactorial and includes reduced caloric intake as a major contributing mechanism. The perceptions of taste and smell play an important role in stimulating caloric intake and in optimizing nutrient absorption through cephalic phase reflexes. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the degree of losses in taste and smell function that occur in subjects infected with HIV. Taste and smell function was evaluated in 40 HIV infected individuals and 40 healthy control subjects matched for age, sex, race, smoking behavior, and number of years of education. Chemosensory tests administered to subjects included taste and smell detection thresholds, taste and smell memory tests, taste and smell discrimination tests, and taste and smell identification tasks. Significant differences were observed between experimental and control subjects in glutamic acid taste detection threshold (p < 0.001), quinine hydrochloride taste detection threshold (p < 0.001), menthol smell detection threshold (p < 0.001) and in the taste identification task (p = 0.006). Overall the results suggest abnormalities in the peripheral and central nervous systems, and subjective distortion of taste and smell. A significant correlation was not established between CDC classification of HIV infection and taste and smell function, although trends were observed suggesting worsening function with progression of HIV disease. These results document significant taste and smell losses in HIV infected subjects which may be of clinical significance in the development or progression of HIV associated wasting.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Graham, CS; Graham, BG; Bartlett, JA; Heald, AE; Schiffman, SS

Published Date

  • August 1995

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 58 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 287 - 293

PubMed ID

  • 7568432

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0031-9384

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/0031-9384(95)00049-o


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States