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Open Access Research article

Effects of diabetes mellitus on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a systematic review

Alain Lekoubou1, Tandi E Matsha2, Eugene Sobngwi3 and Andre P Kengne456*

Author Affiliations

1 Neurological and Neurosurgical Hospital, Lyon, France

2 Department of Biomedical Technology, Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa

3 National Obesity Centre, Yaounde Central Hospital and Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé 1, Yaoundé, Cameroon

4 South African Medical Research Council & University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

5 The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia

6 Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

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BMC Research Notes 2014, 7:171  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-7-171

Published: 24 March 2014



Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incurable motor neuron degenerative disease which onset and course may be affected by concurrent diabetes mellitus (DM). We performed a systematic review to assess the effect of DM/dysglycemic states on ALS.


We searched PubMed MEDLINE, from inception to March 2013 for original articles published in English and in French languages on DM (and related states) and ALS. We made no restriction per study designs.


Seven studies/1410 citations (5 case–control and 2 cross-sectional) were included in the final selection. The number of participants with ALS ranged from 18 to 2371. The outcome of interest was ALS and DM/dysglycemic states respectively in three and two case control-studies. DM/impaired glucose tolerance status did not affect disease progression, survival, disease severity and disease duration in ALS participants but ALS participants with DM were found to be older in one study. DM/IGT prevalence was similar in both ALS and non ALS participants. This review was limited by the absence of prospective cohort studies and the heterogeneity in ALS and DM diagnosis criteria.


This systematic review suggests that evidences for the association of ALS and DM are rather limited and derived from cross-sectional studies. Prospective studies supplemented by ALS registries and animal studies are needed to better understand the relationship between both conditions.