Mount Sinai scientists suggest they have identified biological markers in the teeth of patients who went on to develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Using lasers, they mapped the growth rings that form daily in the teeth and discovered evidence in the growth rings formed at birth and within the first 10 years of life that patients with ALS metabolized metals differently than patients without the disease.
ALS is a condition that usually manifests when someone is in their 50s or 60s. The cause is not known, and there is no test to predict its onset. Genetic studies have not revealed a great deal yet, and while experts believe environmental factors play a significant role in the development of the disease, there have been no clear indications of which ones, a media release from The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine notes.
“We hope in the long term, after validation of this work in larger studies, that this will lead to preventive strategies. What’s exciting about this work is that we are looking at biological pathways that we could potentially modify with drug development,” says senior author Manish Arora, BDS, MPH, PhD, Edith J. Baerwald Professor and Vice Chair of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in the release.
The study showed dysregulated uptake of a mixture of essential elements, including zinc and copper, as well as toxins like lead and tin, in 36 ALS patients compared to 31 controls. The markers of metal uptake dysregulation were also observed in teeth from an ALS mouse model that also showed differences in the distribution of metals in the brain compared to controls.
“Our previous work showed that the dysregulation of elemental metabolism in early life was associated with the onset of neurological disease such as autism and ADHD,” states Christine Austin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, a major contributor to this work, per the release.
“This study shows that metabolic dysregulation is also associated with neurological conditions with a much greater lag to symptom onset.”
[Source(s): The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine, EurekAlert]