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Toxins 2015, 7(2), 322-336;

Detection of Cyanotoxins, β-N-methylamino-L-alanine and Microcystins, from a Lake Surrounded by Cases of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Institute for Ethnomedicine, PO Box 3464, Jackson, WY 83001, USA
Cheyenne Regional Medical Group, Cheyenne, WY 82001, USA
Department of Neurology, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH 03756, USA
Department of Biological Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Luis M. Botana
Received: 19 November 2014 / Revised: 12 December 2014 / Accepted: 21 January 2015 / Published: 29 January 2015
(This article belongs to the Collection Marine and Freshwater Toxins)
PDF [340 KB, uploaded 29 January 2015]


A cluster of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been previously described to border Lake Mascoma in Enfield, NH, with an incidence of ALS approximating 25 times expected. We hypothesize a possible association with cyanobacterial blooms that can produce β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), a neurotoxic amino acid implicated as a possible cause of ALS/PDC in Guam. Muscle, liver, and brain tissue samples from a Lake Mascoma carp, as well as filtered aerosol samples, were analyzed for microcystins (MC), free and protein-bound BMAA, and the BMAA isomers 2,4-diaminobutyric acid (DAB) and N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine (AEG). In carp brain, BMAA and DAB concentrations were 0.043 μg/g ± 0.02 SD and 0.01 μg/g ± 0.002 SD respectively. In carp liver and muscle, the BMAA concentrations were 1.28 μg/g and 1.27 μg/g respectively, and DAB was not detected. BMAA was detected in the air filters, as were the isomers DAB and AEG. These results demonstrate that a putative cause for ALS, BMAA, exists in an environment that has a documented cluster of ALS. Although cause and effect have not been demonstrated, our observations and measurements strengthen the association. View Full-Text
Keywords: β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA); amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); cyanobacteria; aerosols β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA); amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); cyanobacteria; aerosols

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Banack, S.A.; Caller, T.; Henegan, P.; Haney, J.; Murby, A.; Metcalf, J.S.; Powell, J.; Cox, P.A.; Stommel, E. Detection of Cyanotoxins, β-N-methylamino-L-alanine and Microcystins, from a Lake Surrounded by Cases of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Toxins 2015, 7, 322-336.

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