Nutritional and exercise-based interventions in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Clin Nutr. 2009 Dec;28(6):604-17. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2009.06.002. Epub 2009 Sep 25.


Background & aims: Disease pathogenesis in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) involves a number of interconnected mechanisms all resulting in the rapid deterioration of motor neurons. The main mechanisms include enhanced free radical production, protein misfolding, aberrant protein aggregation, excitotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation and apoptosis. The aim of this review is to assess the efficacy of using nutrition- and exercise-related interventions to improve disease outcomes in ALS.

Methods: Studies involving nutrition or exercise in human and animal models of ALS were reviewed.

Results: Treatments conducted in animal models of ALS have not consistently translated into beneficial results in clinical trials due to poor design, lack of power and short study duration, as well as differences in the genetic backgrounds, treatment dosages and disease pathology between animals and humans. However, vitamin E, folic acid, alpha lipoic acid, lyophilized red wine, coenzyme Q10, epigallocatechin gallate, Ginkgo biloba, melatonin, Cu chelators, and regular low and moderate intensity exercise, as well as treatments with catalase and l-carnitine, hold promise to mitigating the effects of ALS, whereas caloric restriction, malnutrition and high-intensity exercise are contraindicated in this disease model.

Conclusions: Improved nutritional status is of utmost importance in mitigating the detrimental effects of ALS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / diet therapy*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / therapy*
  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Treatment Outcome