Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Mohamadmostafa Jahansouz M.D.[2]

Overview

Scientists have not found a definitive cause for ALS and the onset of the disease has been linked to several factors, including: a virus; exposure to neurotoxins or heavy metals; DNA defects; immune system abnormalities; and enzyme abnormalities. There is a known hereditary factor in familial ALS (FALS); however, there is no known hereditary component in the 90-95% cases diagnosed as sporadic ALS.

Cause

  • An inherited genetic defect linked to a defect on chromosome 21 is believed to cause approximately 40% of familial cases of ALS. This mutation is believed to be autosomal dominant
  • The children of those diagnosed with familial ALS have a higher risk factor for developing the disease; however, those who have close family members diagnosed with sporadic ALS have no greater a risk factor than the general population [3]
  • Prolonged exposure to a dietary neurotoxin is one suspected risk factor in Guam; the neurotoxin is a compound found in the seed of the cycad Cycas circinalis,[1] a tropical plant found in Guam, which was used in the human food supply during the 1950s and early 1960s.

References

  1. Bains J, et al. (2002). "Isolation of various forms of sterol beta-D-glucoside from the seed of Cycas circinalis: neurotoxicity and implications for ALS-parkinsonism dementia complex".J. Neurochem. 82(3):516-28. PMID: 12153476.



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