Select Page



Mercury in Fish Tied to a Higher ALS Risk

J Biomed Sci. 2016 Oct 21;23(1):72.

Therapeutic effect of berberine on TDP-43-related pathogenesis in FTLD and ALS.


In the central nervous system regions of the sporadic and familial FTLD and ALS patients, TDP-43 has been identified as the major component of UBIs inclusions which is abnormally hyperphosphorylated, ubiquitinated, and cleaved into C-terminal fragments to form detergent-insoluble aggregates. So far, the effective drugs for FTLD and ALS neurodegenerative diseases are yet to be developed. Autophagy has been demonstrated as the major metabolism route of the pathological TDP-43 inclusions, hence activation of autophagy is a potential therapeutic strategy for TDP-43 pathogenesis in FTLD and ALS. Berberine, a traditional herbal medicine, is an inhibitor of mTOR signal and an activator for autophagy. Berberine has been implicated in several kinds of diseases, including the neuronal-related pathogenesis, such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. However, the therapeutic effect of berberine on FTLD or ALS pathology has never been investigated.


Here we studied the molecular mechanism of berberine in cell culture model with TDP-43 proteinopathies, and found that berberine is able to reverse the processing of insoluble TDP-43 aggregates formation through deregulation of mTOR/p70S6K signal and activation of autophagic degradation pathway. And inhibition of autophagy by specific autophagosome inhibitor, 3-MA, reverses the effect of berberine on reducing the accumulation of insoluble TDP-43 and aggregates formation. These results gave us the notion that inhibition of autophagy by 3-MA reverses the effect of berberine on TDP-43 pathogenesis, and activation of mTOR-regulated autophagy plays an important role in berberine-mediated therapeutic effect on TDP-43 proteinopathies.


We supported an important notion that the traditional herb berberine is a potential alternative therapy for TDP-43-related neuropathology. Here we demonstrated that berberine is able to reverse the processing of insoluble TDP-43 aggregates formation through deregulation of mTOR/p70S6K signal and activation of autophagic degradation pathway. mTOR-autophagy signals plays an important role in berberine-mediated autophagic clearance of TDP-43 aggregates. Exploring the detailed mechanism of berberine on TDP-43 proteinopathy provides a better understanding for the therapeutic development in FTLD and ALS.

PMID: 27769241   PMCID: PMC5073438


Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener. 2013 May;14(4):246-51. doi: 10.3109/21678421.2012.745570. Epub 2013 Jan 4.

Vitamin E serum levels and controlled supplementation and risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.


There are no observational studies or controlled trials of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and circulating α-tocopherol (vitamin E) for prevention of ALS. This study addresses that gap. The study population comprised 29,127 Finnish male smokers, aged 50-69 years, who participated in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study, which is both a prospective cohort and a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of α-tocopherol (50 mg/day) and β-carotene (20 mg/day). Serum α-tocopherol and β-carotene was assayed at baseline (1985 – 1988). Follow-up (median 16.7 years) continued through 2004. ALS cases were identified through the national Hospital Discharge Register with diagnostic verification by hospital records and death certificates. During 407,260 person-years of follow-up, 50 men were identified with ALS. For males with serum α-tocopherol concentration above the median (≥ 11.6 mg/l), the age-adjusted relative risk (RR) compared to α-tocopherol below the median, was 0.56 (95% confidence interval 0.32 – 0.99), p = 0.046. The RR among α-tocopherol supplement recipients was 0.75 (95% CI 0.32 – 1.79), p = 0.52. Neither serum β-carotene level nor β-carotene supplementation was associated with ALS. In conclusion, the results are consistent with a hypothesized protective effect of α-tocopherol on ALS risk. However, pooled analyses of cohorts with serum and controlled trials are needed to clarify the role of α-tocopherol in ALS risk.

PMID: 23286756    PMCID: PMC3673294
J Clin Neurosci. 2013 Nov;20(11):1550-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2013.01.011. Epub 2013 Jun 29.

Vitamin D deficiency and its supplementation in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.


We studied 25-hydroxyvitamin D (vitamin D) levels in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and the effect of vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D levels were checked in 37 consecutive patients with ALS. Demographic data, vitamin D supplementation, change in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R) score, and side effects from vitamin D were noted over a 9 month follow-up period. ALSFRS-R scores were compared between patients who took vitamin D and those who did not. The median age was 55 years and median time since symptom onset was 61 months. The mean vitamin D level was 22.3 ng/mL (normal range, 30-80 ng/mL). Eighty-one percent of patients had a vitamin D level lower than 30 ng/mL and 43% had a vitamin D level lower than 20 ng/mL. Twenty patients took 2000 international units of vitamin D daily. After adjustment for age and baseline vitamin D levels in a linear regression model, the ALSFRS-R score decline was smaller in patients taking vitamin D at 9 months (p=0.02) but was not significantly different at 3 or 6 months. Median vitamin D levels rose from 18.5 to 31.0 ng/mL at 6 months in the group taking vitamin D. No side effects secondary to vitamin D supplementation were reported. Vitamin D supplementation at 2000 international units daily was safe over a period of 9 months and may have a beneficial effect on ALSFRS-R scores. Further studies are warranted to determine whether there is a benefit in vitamin D supplementation for all ALS patients.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. PMID: 23815870


Rinsho Shinkeigaku. 1989 Jul;29(7):844-8.

[Mercury in hair of patients with ALS].

[Article in Japanese]


In middle of Kii peninsula, one of the biggest mercury mine in Japan had been present until about 10 years ago. The mercury contents in water and fish are reported to be higher in this district. So we investigated the mercury in hair of patients and normal controls. In this study the subjects are 23 cases of ALS including 15 cases in Nara and Mie and 8 cases in other prefectures except in Kii peninsula, 14 cases with ataxia, 11 cases with other degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, 25 cases of cerebrovascular disease as compared to 26 normal controls. The hair are taken from 3 areas on head of patients and normal controls. They are washed in 2% sodium lauryl sulfate and stirred in distilled water several times, and they are soaked in acetone and dried in filter paper. They are inserted in fire and vaporized mercury are measured (Zeeman Effect Mercury Analyzer) in ppm. The hair mercury concentration is 2.81 ppm in ALS in total, 3.62 ppm in ALS in Nara and Mie and 1.39 ppm in outside of Kii Peninsula, 2.34 ppm in ataxia, 1.83 ppm in other degenerative diseases, 1.66 ppm in cerebrovascular disease and 1.44 ppm in normal controls. Statistically it is significant (p less than 0.05) between that in ALS in Nara and Mie and that in normal controls. 6 cases (40%) with ALS in Nara and Mie have the value above the mean +2 standard deviation of controls.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

PMID: 2805505

Pin It on Pinterest