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Risk factors for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Authors Ingre C, Roos P, Piehl F, Kamel F, Fang F

Received 12 November 2014

Accepted for publication 15 December 2014

Published 12 February 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 181—193

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CLEP.S37505

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Henrik Toft Sorensen


Caroline Ingre,1 Per M Roos,2 Fredrik Piehl,1 Freya Kamel,3 Fang Fang4

1Department of Clinical Neuroscience, 2Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; 3Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA; 4Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common motor neuron disease. It is typically fatal within 2–5 years of symptom onset. The incidence of ALS is largely uniform across most parts of the world, but an increasing ALS incidence during the last decades has been suggested. Although recent genetic studies have substantially improved our understanding of the causes of ALS, especially familial ALS, an important role of non-genetic factors in ALS is recognized and needs further study. In this review, we briefly discuss several major genetic contributors to ALS identified to date, followed by a more focused discussion on the most commonly examined non-genetic risk factors for ALS. We first review factors related to lifestyle choices, including smoking, intake of antioxidants, physical fitness, body mass index, and physical exercise, followed by factors related to occupational and environmental exposures, including electromagnetic fields, metals, pesticides, β-methylamino-L-alanine, and viral infection. Potential links between ALS and other medical conditions, including head trauma, metabolic diseases, cancer, and inflammatory diseases, are also discussed. Finally, we outline several future directions aiming to more efficiently examine the role of non-genetic risk factors in ALS.

Keywords: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, risk factors, genetics, lifestyle, environment

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