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Serum N-Acetylaspartate Level Potential Biomarker in ALS

Last Updated: October 13, 2011.

The level of serum N-acetylaspartate is significantly higher in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis than healthy individuals, according to a study published in the October issue of the Archives of Neurology.

THURSDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- The level of serum N-acetylaspartate (NAA) is significantly higher in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) than healthy individuals, according to a study published in the October issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Isabella L. Simone, M.D., from the University of Bari in Italy, and colleagues investigated whether serum NAA levels could be used as a possible biomarker of ALS in 112 patients with ALS and 51 age- and gender-matched healthy controls. Serum NAA was assayed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. The associations between the serum NAA level and clinical variables in patients were measured using general estimating equations.

The investigators found that there was a significantly higher serum NAA level in patients with ALS than in controls. The serum NAA level was directly associated with the presence of ALS in multivariate logistic regression analysis. The age- and gender-matched odds ratio for ALS was 19.97, after stratifying the serum NAA level by the median value (0.171 mmol/L). No differences were observed in the NAA level across ALS clinical phenotypes, and riluzole treatment had no effect on the NAA level. The serum NAA level was significantly correlated with the rate of ALS progression.

"High serum NAA level was found in patients with ALS, which may relate to greater excretion of NAA into the blood circulation following increased release of this metabolite from damaged neurons," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties with pharmaceutical companies, including Sanofi-Aventis, which partially funded the study.

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