Animal Studies Offer Insights Into MS09/23/10
THURSDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Direct interaction
between immune cells and nerve cells (neurons) appears to play a
major role in neuronal damage associated with multiple sclerosis,
says a new European study.
This interaction may offer a new target for treatment of MS,
said the German researchers.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that damages the
protective myelin sheath covering the nerves of the central nervous
system, often resulting in numbness, vision problems and severe
In this study, the scientists used imaging technology to examine
the role of immune cells in causing neuronal damage in mice with
experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), which is an animal
model of MS.
The findings are published online Sept. 23 in the journal
The researchers observed direct interaction between immune cells
and neurons that resulted in increased calcium levels that were
"toxic" and damaged neurons.
Watching the disease in action with an imaging device showed the
nerve dysfunction associated with the disease to be "early and
potentially reversible," wrote Professor Frauke Zipp, of Johannes
Gutenberg University in Mainz, and colleagues in a news release
from the publisher.
This, he said, "suggests that [immune-related] disturbances of
the neurons themselves contribute to multiple sclerosis, in
addition to interruptions in nerve cell transmission as a result of
changes to the myelin sheath."
"Furthermore, immune-mediated reversible calcium increases in neurons are a viable target for future therapeutics," he concluded.
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