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Abstract Background Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a prognostically heterogeneous neurodegenerative disease. Blood creatine kinase (CK) level has been inconsistently reported as a prognostic biomarker and raised levels in some ALS patients have been presumed to reflect muscle wasting, which is also variable. Methods MEDLINE was systematically searched for papers related to CK in ALS and the relevant studies were reviewed. Using data from 222 ALS patients in a multi-centre, prospective, longitudinal cohort, survival analyses using Kaplan–Meier and Cox proportional hazards models were undertaken in relation to CK and other prognostic factors. Results Twenty-five studies investigating CK in ALS were identified, of which 10 specifically studied the link between CK and survival. Five studies observed no association, four found that higher CK levels were associated with longer survival and one, the opposite. In our cohort (n = 222), 39% of patients had a CK level above the laboratory reference range. Levels were higher in males compared to females (p < 0.001), in patients with limb versus bulbar onset of symptoms (p < 0.001) and in patients with higher lower motor neuron burden (p < 0.001). There was no significant trend in longitudinal CK values. Although a higher standardised log (CK) at first visit was associated with longer survival in univariate analysis (hazard ratio 0.75, p = 0.003), there was no significant association after adjusting for other prognostic covariates. Conclusion While raised CK levels in ALS do reflect lower motor neuron denervation to a large extent, they are not independently associated with survival when measured in the symptomatic phase of the disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Neurology


Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date





5395 - 5404