Background: Several metabolic derangements associated with diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM) have been associated with a better outcome in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), including hyperlipidemia and obesity. Here, we tested the hypothesis that DM would have a positive effect on the motor and cognitive findings of ALS.
Methods: We compared data from ALS patients with pre-morbid DM (ALS-DM; n = 175) versus without DM (ALS; n = 2196) with regard to the age of onset, rate of motor progression, survival, and neuropsychological test performance.
Results: The age of onset was later for women, Caucasians and patients with bulbar-onset ALS. However, we also found that after adjusting for gender, ethnicity and site of onset, DM was associated with a 4-year later onset of ALS (ALS = 56.3, ALS-DM = 60.3, P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Diabetes mellitus type 2 may delay the onset of motor symptoms in ALS. These findings support other studies suggesting a relationship between the pathophysiology of ALS and metabolic derangements. Further investigations are needed to ascertain whether manipulating metabolic parameters would improve outcomes in ALS.