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Although the association of the formaldehyde exposure with the
etiology of ALS may be due to bias, the careful investigation of Weisskopf
et al. (1) is thought-provoking.
Methanol and its first metabolite are neurotoxic (2, 3) because their
common end metabolite formic acid is an inhibitor of the cytochrome
oxidase in the mitochondrial respiratory chain (3).
The neurochemical mech...
The neurochemical mechanisms may thus be quite different in
formaldehyde toxicity (4) as compared to chronic ALS (5).
However, in view of the highly interesting results of this study (1),
formaldehyde effects would merit a specific epidemiological analysis for
1. Weisskopf MG, Morozova N, O´Reilly EJ, et al.Prospective study of
chemical exposures and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
J Neurol Neurosurg
Psychiatry 2009; 80: 558.
2. Almansori M, Ahmed SN. CT findings in methanol poisoning.
Assoc J 2007; 176: 620.
3. Liesivuori J, Savolainen H. Methanol and Formic acid toxicity.
Pharmacol Toxicol 1991; 69: 157.
4. Eells J, McMartin KE, Black K, et al. Formaldehyde poisoning. Rapid
metabolism to formic acid.
JAMA 1981; 246: 1237.
5. Palo J, Savolainen H, Kivalo E. Comparison between the proteins of
human brain myelin in subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, amyotrophic
lateral sclerosis and malignant diseases.
J Neurol Sci 1973; 18: 175.