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Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener. 2015;16(7-8):456-63. doi: 10.3109/21678421.2015.1053490. Epub 2015 Jun 29.

The longitudinal cerebrospinal fluid metabolomic profile of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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a Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience , University of Oxford , Oxford , UK.
b Cancer Research UK and Medical Research Council, Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology, Department of Oncology , University of Oxford , Oxford , UK.
c Department of Chemistry , University of Oxford , Oxford , UK.


Neurochemical biomarkers are urgently sought in ALS. Metabolomic analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) using proton nuclear magnetic resonance ((1)H-NMR) spectroscopy is a highly sensitive method capable of revealing nervous system cellular pathology. The (1)H-NMR CSF metabolomic signature of ALS was sought in a longitudinal cohort. Six-monthly serial collection was performed in ALS patients across a range of clinical sub-types (n = 41) for up to two years, and in healthy controls at a single time-point (n = 14). A multivariate statistical approach, partial least squares discriminant analysis, was used to determine differences between the NMR spectra from patients and controls. Significantly predictive models were found using those patients with at least one year's interval between recruitment and the second sample. Glucose, lactate, citric acid and, unexpectedly, ethanol were the discriminating metabolites elevated in ALS. It is concluded that (1)H-NMR captured the CSF metabolomic signature associated with derangements in cellular energy utilization connected with ALS, and was most prominent in comparisons using patients with longer disease duration. The specific metabolites identified support the concept of a hypercatabolic state, possibly involving mitochondrial dysfunction specifically. Endogenous ethanol in the CSF may be an unrecognized novel marker of neuronal tissue injury in ALS.


Nuclear magnetic resonance; biomarker; motor neuron disease; neurochemical; proton

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