Dupilumab and smell loss

Several studies have been published on the use of the drug Dupilumab and its effect on chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). One of the symptoms of CRS is a decreased sense of smell (hyposmia) and in many cases a total loss of sense of smell (anosmia). What is Dupilumab and is this drug the solution for people with anosmia? In this article we will discuss scientific articles in more detail.

What is Dupilumab?

Dupilumab is a medicine used to treat atopic dermatitis and chronic sinusitis. It is a monoclonal antibody that blocks the action of the interleukins IL-4 and IL-13. These interleukins play a role in inflammation. The following is written on the website of Zorginstituut Nederland:

Adjunctive treatment with intranasal corticosteroids in adults with severe chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) inadequately controlled despite systemic corticosteroids and/or surgery.

Another word for rhinosinusitis is sinusitis. A sinus infection often starts with a common cold. The mucous membrane in the nose becomes swollen, causing nasal congestion. When the symptoms persist for more than six weeks despite treatment, it is referred to as chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). There is a relationship between CRS and nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are benign swellings of the nasal mucosa. These can impede proper drainage from the cavities. In addition, chronic inflammation of the nasal and sinus mucosa increases the risk of developing nasal polyps.

Dupilumab is an approved drug in more than 100 countries, including the Netherlands.

Does it help with loss of smell?

More and more scientific studies are coming online on the effect of Dupilumab on anosmia. The main focus was on the effect of the drug in people with chronic rhinosinusitis. These studies have shown that the sense of smell can improve in people with CRS.

Below is an overview of some studies.

Scientific research

This 2021 study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that Dupilumab caused a rapid and sustained improvement in the sense of smell. This study was conducted in 724 patients with anosmia.

This Dutch study also demonstrates that dupilumab can reduce the size of nasal polyps, decrease the veil of the sinuses and decrease the severity of symptoms in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis with polyps that is not controlled with standard treatment.

Also, this 2021 study of 60 patients, published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, found that dupilumab improved the sense of smell in 63% of people with anosmia caused by allergic inflammation of the nose.

Another study, published in the journal The Laryngoscope, found that dupilumab improved the sense of smell in 50% of people with anosmia caused by allergic inflammation of the nose.

In the studies, the patients’ sense of smell was tested with the UPSIT smell test.

Conclusion use Dupilumab

These studies suggest that Dupilumab is a potentially effective agent for patients with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps. The drug is approved in the Netherlands as an adjunctive treatment of CRSwNP that is insufficiently controlled despite systemic corticosteroids and/or surgery.

Also, more and larger studies are needed to investigate the long-term effects, costs and safety.

Wondering if the remedy can also be effective for you? Then we advise you to contact your (ENT) doctor for further advice.