Fat mass loss correlates with faster disease progression in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients: Exploring the utility of dual-energy xray absorptiometry in a prospective study

Academic Article


  • Background/objective Weight loss is a predictor of shorter survival in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We performed serial measures of body composition using Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) in ALS patients to explore its utility as a biomarker of disease progression. Methods DEXA data were obtained from participants with ALS (enrollment, at 6- A nd 12-months follow ups) and Parkinson's disease (enrollment and at 4-month follow up) as a comparator group. Body mass index, total lean mass index, appendicular lean mass index, total fat mass index, and percentage body fat at enrollment were compared between the ALS and PD cohorts and age-matched normative data obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey database. Estimated monthly changes of body composition measures in the ALS cohort were compared to those of the PD cohort and were correlated with disease progression measured by the Revised Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R). Results The ALS cohort (N = 20) had lower baseline total and appendicular lean mass indices compared to the PD cohort (N = 20) and general population. Loss in total and appendicular lean masses were found to be significantly associated with follow-up time. Low baseline percentage body fat (r = 0.72, p = 0.04), loss of percentage body fat (r = 0.81, p = 0.01), and total fat mass index (r = 0.73, p = 0.04) during follow up correlated significantly with monthly decline of ALSFRS-R scores in ALS cohort who had 2 or more follow-ups (N = 8). Conclusion Measurement of body composition with DEXA might serve as a biomarker for rapid disease progression in ALS. Copyright:
  • Published In

  • PLoS One  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Lee I; Kazamel M; McPherson T; McAdam J; Bamman M; Amara A; Smith DL; King PH
  • Volume

  • 16
  • Issue

  • 5 May