Essential trace elements in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Results in a population of a risk area of Italy

Giovanni Forte, Beatrice Bocca, Riccardo Oggiano, Simonetta Clemente, Yolande Asara, Maria Alessandra Sotgiu, Cristiano Farace, Andrea Montella, Alessandro Giuseppe Fois, Michele Malaguarnera, Pietro Pirina, Roberto Madeddu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sardinian (Italy) island population has a uniquely high incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Essential trace element levels in blood, hair, and urine of ALS Sardinian patients were investigated in search of valid biomarkers to recognize and predict ALS. Six elements (Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, Se, and Zn) were measured in 34 patients compared to 30 age- and sex-matched healthy controls by a validated method. Levels of Ca and Cu in blood and of Se and Zn in hair were significantly higher in ALS than in controls, while urinary excretion of Mg and Se was significantly decreased. The selected cut-off concentrations for these biomarkers may distinguish patients with or without ALS with sufficient sensitivity and specificity. Many positive (as Se-Cu and Se-Zn) and negative associations (as Ca-Mg and Ca-Zn) between elements suggested that multiple metals involved in multiple mechanisms have a role in the ALS degeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1609-1615
Number of pages7
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Biomarkers
  • Blood
  • Hair
  • Trace elements
  • Urine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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