Nutritional prognostic factors for survival in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients undergone percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy placement

Objective: There are conflicting data on nutritional factors influencing survival in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients after percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) placement. We performed an observational cross-sectional study evaluating body mass index (BMI) categories and cholesterol levels as prognostic factors for survival after PEG. Moreover, we assessed body composition in a subgroup of patients to better explain the influence of BMI on survival. Methods: Neurological and nutritional parameters were evaluated at the time of PEG implantation in 47 consecutive patients. Moreover, body composition was evaluated in a subgroup of 22 patients by bioelectrical impedance analysis. Survival was calculated as the time from the PEG placement to death. Results: Underweight patients had a significantly increased risk of death as compared to normal-weight patients using Cox regression analysis [HR = 3.37 (1.29–8.81); p = 0.04]. Similarly, older age at the onset of symptoms significantly increased the risk of death [HR = 1.07 (1.02–1.12); p = 0.001]. Neither overweight/obesity nor hypercholesterolemia affected survival. All ALS patients showed an altered body composition compared to the general population. In addition, a BMI <18.5 kg/m2 identified patients with a significant reduction of body cell mass (BCM) and phase angle (PhA) compared to patients with normal BMI taken as the reference value. Conclusions: In the later stages of the disease, only a BMI < 18.5 kg/m2 and older age at symptom onset had a prognostic value on survival. Dyslipidemia did not affect survival. The low BCM and PhA characterizing underweight patients support the role of BMI as a predictor of survival.