Eating peptides: biomarkers of neurodegeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia

Rebekah M. Ahmed, Katherine Phan, Elizabeth Highton-Williamson, Cherie Strikwerda-Brown, Jashelle Caga, Eleanor Ramsey, Margaret Zoing, Emma Devenney, Woojin S. Kim, John R. Hodges, Olivier Piguet, Glenda M. Halliday, Matthew C. Kiernan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Physiological changes potentially influence disease progression and survival along the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)-Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) spectrum. The peripheral peptides that regulate eating and metabolism may provide diagnostic, metabolic, and progression biomarkers. The current study aimed to examine the relationships and biomarker potential of hormonal peptides. Methods: One hundred and twenty-seven participants (36 ALS, 26 ALS- cognitive, patients with additional cognitive behavioral features, and 35 behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD) and 30 controls) underwent fasting blood analyses of leptin, ghrelin, neuropeptide Y (NPY), peptide YY (PYY), and insulin levels. Relationships between endocrine measures, cognition, eating behaviors, and body mass index (BMI) were investigated. Biomarker potential was evaluated using multinomial logistic regression for diagnosis and correlation to disease duration. Results: Compared to controls, ALS and ALS-cognitive had higher NPY levels and bvFTD had lower NPY levels, while leptin levels were increased in all patient groups. All groups had increased insulin levels and a state of insulin resistance compared to controls. Lower NPY levels correlated with increasing eating behavioral change and BMI, while leptin levels correlated with BMI. On multinomial logistic regression, NPY and leptin levels were found to differentiate between diagnosis. Reduced Neuropeptide Y levels correlated with increasing disease duration, suggesting it may be useful as a potential marker of disease progression. Interpretation: ALS-FTD is characterized by changes in NPY and leptin levels that may impact on the underlying regional neurodegeneration as they were predictive of diagnosis and disease duration, offering the potential as biomarkers and for the development of interventional treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-495
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Clinical and Translational Neurology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


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