Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia: distinct and overlapping changes in eating behaviour and metabolism

Lancet Neurol. 2016 Mar;15(3):332-42. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(15)00380-4. Epub 2016 Jan 26.


Metabolic changes incorporating fluctuations in weight, insulin resistance, and cholesterol concentrations have been identified in several neurodegenerative disorders. Whether these changes result from the neurodegenerative process affecting brain regions necessary for metabolic regulation or whether they drive the degenerative process is unknown. Emerging evidence from epidemiological, clinical, pathological, and experimental studies emphasises a range of changes in eating behaviours and metabolism in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). In ALS, metabolic changes have been linked to disease progression and prognosis. Furthermore, changes in eating behaviour that affect metabolism have been incorporated into the diagnostic criteria for FTD, which has some clinical and pathological overlap with ALS. Whether the distinct and shared metabolic and eating changes represent a component of the proposed spectrum of the two diseases is an intriguing possibility. Moreover, future research should aim to unravel the complex connections between eating, metabolism, and neurodegeneration in ALS and FTD, and aim to understand the potential for targeting modifiable risk factors in disease development and progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / metabolism*
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / physiopathology
  • Humans