According to a recent study published in the journal JAMA Neurology, type 2 diabetes is associated with a diminished risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The study revealed that the risk is directly associated with the age at diagnosis of diabetes and the age at diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative brain condition.
“Our observed association between diabetes and ALS provides some additional information to our understanding about ALS,” Marianthi-AnnaKioumourtzoglou, ScD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a recent news release. “Of course, our results should be replicated – as is always the case with studies – but we believe our paper could be the start of a discussion and focus further attention on the role of energy metabolism in ALS pathogenesis.”
The population-based, nested case-control study was based on a total population of 3,650 Danish adult residents who received a diagnosis of ALS between 1982 and 2009. Data was retrieved from the Danish National Patient Register and the researchers examined the relationship between hospital admission for ALS diagnosis and diabetes. The research team also examined information from 365,000 age and sex matched healthy controls.
A total of 9,294 diabetes patients were identified at 3 years before the index date. From these, 55 received a diagnosis of ALS. The results showed that the average age of a diabetes diagnosis was 59.7 years, while the average mean between the diagnosis of diabetes and ALS among patients who suffered from both conditions was of 9.8 years. Data also revealed that diabetes, but not obesity, was associated with a reduced risk of developing ALS.
The researchers examined both obesity and diabetes observing the odds of developing ALS were of 0.61 for diabetes and 0.81 for obesity. The protective association was stronger with an increasing age at ALS diagnosis. “Our findings provide some additional support on the idea that energy metabolism plays an important role in ALS pathogenesis,” Kioumourtzoglou said in the news release. “The specific underlying mechanisms for our observed association between diabetes and ALS are currently unknown. Therefore, the immediate clinical implications are not necessarily clear.”
According to Kioumourtzoglou other toxicologic and epidemiologic studies should further examine this association. “The next steps would include identification of what related to diabetes is responsible for the protective association,” Kioumourtzoglou said. “For instance, our findings suggest that it is likely type 2 diabetes is protective, while type 1 might even be a risk factor. Once the underlying mechanism is understood, then hopefully that can lead to prevention and, maybe even at some point in the future, treatment (if diabetes is found to also impact survival).”