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J Neurol. 2013 Feb;260(2):572-9. doi: 10.1007/s00415-012-6681-5. Epub 2012 Sep 30.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in Sardinia, insular Italy, 1995-2009.

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Dip. di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Neurologia, Università degli Studi di Sassari, Viale San Pietro 10, 07100 Sassari, Italy.


Recent genetic studies suggest a Sardinian type of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Thus, ALS incidence, prevalence and survival were investigated in a large population of Sardinians aimed to disclose population-specific patterns and their temporal changes. This is a population-based incidence and prevalence study in northern and central Sardinia, insular Italy (over 700,000 population). Incidence rates were computed for the time interval 1995-2009 and by quinquennia. Prevalence was computed for prevalence days 31 December 2004 and 2009. Onset-based survival for 1995-2009 is also reported. All ALS patients (El Escorial Criteria) in the study area were retrospectively included. The ALS crude incidence from 2005-2009 was 2.5 (95 % CIs: 0.1, 4.9), 3.4 in men and 1.6 in women. Onset occurred most often between the age of 65-74 years in men and 55-64 years in women. The ALS incidence tended to increase over the period 1995-2009. The mean age at onset was 61.7 years with no difference based on gender, varying significantly from 59.9 years in 1995-1999 to 63.9 years in 2005-2009. On December 31, 2009, the ALS crude prevalence was 10.8 per 100,000 (95 % CIs: 8.6, 13.1), 13.8 in men and 8.0 in women, whereas it was 6.3 per 100,000 (95 % CIs: 4.1, 8.6) on December 31, 2004 (M:F ratio of 0.95). Mean survival from onset was 37.0 months, with no difference based on gender, and a tendency to decrease during the period 1995-2009, in relation to type and age of onset. The population-based incidence and prevalence data of ALS in Sardinians indicate an increase of the disease occurrence over the past 40 years, providing support for a population-specific variant of ALS in Sardinia.

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