Research Advances > Biomarkers > Odor perception

Autism Biomarker Candidates

Odor perception

A change in olfactory function is a symptom found in many neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. Recently, a group of researchers from the Czech Republic found that children with high-functioning autism found the odor of cinnamon, pineapple, and cloves significantly less pleasant than healthy control subjects found the odors.1 The researchers suggest that olfactory function may serve as a biomarker for autism.

Although the use of odor perception is a very easy and inexpensive way to screen for autism risk, more research must be completed to determine the accuracy of the odor test. In this study, only 35 patients were used in each test group. Increasing the number of study participants, and including participants with a wider range of severity along the ASD spectrum, will help to support or reject the hypothesis that olfactory function is a biomarker of autism.

  1. Hrdlicka M, Vodicka J, Havlovicova M, Urbanek T, Blatny M, Dudova I (2011) Brief report: significant differences in perceived odor pleasantness found in children with ASD. J Autism Dev Disord 41:524–527. PMID: 20697793.