Emerging molecular biomarker targets for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Júlia Costa, Mamede De Carvalho

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects upper (UMN) and lower motor (LMN) neurons. It is associated with a short survival and there is no effective treatment, in spite of a large number of clinical trials. Strong efforts have been made to identify novel disease biomarkers to support diagnosis, provide information on prognosis, to measure disease progression in trials and increase our knowledge on disease pathogenesis.Electromyography by testing the function of the LMN can be used as a biomarker of its dysfunction. A number of electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods have been explored to identify a reliable marker of UMN degeneration. Recently, strong evidence from independent groups, large cohorts of patients and multicenter studies indicate that neurofilaments are very promising diagnostic biomarkers, in particular cerebrospinal fluid and blood levels of phosphoneurofilament heavy chain and neurofilament light chain. Furthermore, their increased levels are associated with poor prognosis.Additional studies have been performed aiming to identify other biomarkers, which alone or in combination with neurofilaments could increase the sensitivity and the specificity of the assays. Emerging molecular marker targets are being discovered, but more studies with standardized methods are required in larger cohorts of ALS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-14
Number of pages8
JournalClinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Biomarker
  • Neurofilaments
  • Progression
  • Survival


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