Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Neurology. 2011 Jul 19;77(3):235-41. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318225aabf. Epub 2011 Jun 15.

Multipoint incremental motor unit number estimation as an outcome measure in ALS.

Author information

  • 1Department of Neurology, SUNY Upstate Medical University, 750 East Adams Street, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA.



Improved outcome measures are necessary to reduce sample size and increase power in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) clinical trials. Motor unit number estimation (MUNE) is a potentially attractive tool. MUNE methods previously employed in multicenter trials exhibited excessive variability and were prone to artifact.


To evaluate a modification of standard incremental MUNE in a multicenter natural history study of subjects with ALS.


Fifty healthy subjects were evaluated twice and 71 subjects with ALS were studied repeatedly for up to 500 days. Side and nerve studied was based on clinical examination findings. Nerves were stimulated at 3 specified locations and 3 increments were obtained at each location. Average single motor unit action potential (SMUP) amplitude was calculated by adding the amplitude of the third increment at each location and dividing by 9; SMUP was divided into maximum CMAP amplitude to determine the MUNE.


Test-retest variability was 9% in normal subjects. Average MUNE for normal subjects was 225 (±87), and was 41.9 (±39) among subjects with ALS at baseline. Subjects with ALS showed clear decrements over time, with an overage rate of decline of approximately 9% per month. SMUP amplitude increased with time in a fashion consistent with the known pathophysiology of ALS.


Multipoint incremental MUNE has a number of attributes that make it attractive as an outcome measure in ALS and other diseases characterized by motor unit loss. It can be rapidly performed on any EMG machine and has repeatability and rates of decline that favorably compare to other previously described methods.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk