Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Med Hypotheses. 2013 Feb;80(2):142-5. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.11.012. Epub 2012 Dec 14.

Aerosolization of cyanobacteria as a risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH 03756, United States. elijah.w.stommel@hitchcock.org

Abstract

Sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (sALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease with no known cause. There are many clues to suggest an environmental trigger for the disease, including reports of conjugal couples and co-localized employees that developed sALS. On the island of Guam,a very high incidence of sALS occurred among the Chamorro natives back in the 1940s and 1950s and has been linked to the neurotoxin beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) that is produced by cyanobacteria that live symbiotically in the roots of the cycad plant, the seeds from which were a staple of the Chamorro diet. It has been shown that BMAA was biomagnified up the food chain from the cycad seeds to the now largely extinct, indigenous flying foxes, a former delicacy of the Chamorro natives. Recent evidence suggests that long term, chronic exposure to low levels of BMAA might cause ALS in genetically predisposed individuals. Many exposure routes to BMAA have been implicated thus far, including consumption of contaminated food and exposure to water harboring cyanobacterial blooms which have the capability of producing BMAA. Aerosolization is a well documented means for bacterial or toxin exposure causing subsequent illness, as in the case of brevetoxins and pulmonary disease and Legionnaire's disease. We hypothesize that some cases of ALS may be related to chronic exposure to the aerosolization of cyanobacteria derived BMAA from cooling towers and might explain the observation of conjugal ALS couples.

PMID:
23246360
DOI:
10.1016/j.mehy.2012.11.012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center