We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.

Advertisement
A Surprising Contributor to Multiple Sclerosis
News

A Surprising Contributor to Multiple Sclerosis

A Surprising Contributor to Multiple Sclerosis
News

A Surprising Contributor to Multiple Sclerosis

Credit: Pixabay
Read time:
 

Want a FREE PDF version of This News Story?

Complete the form below and we will email you a PDF version of "A Surprising Contributor to Multiple Sclerosis"

First Name*
Last Name*
Email Address*
Country*
Company Type*
Job Function*
Would you like to receive further email communication from Technology Networks?

Technology Networks Ltd. needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy

Cells that scientists have largely ignored when studying multiple sclerosis are actually key contributors to MS development, new research from the School of Medicine shows. The discovery suggests new avenues for devising treatments and is a vital step toward finding a cure.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Scientists had assumed that these cells, known as oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, could only serve a favorable role in MS. These glial cells make up about 5 percent of the brain and spinal cord, and they play an important and beneficial role by making cells that produce myelin – insulation for nerve cells.

In MS, the body’s immune system begins to attack the myelin, leading to a progressively disabling neurological condition that affects more than 2 million people worldwide. (MS is the most common neurological condition among the young and is often diagnosed between ages 20 and 50.)

It has been thought that these progenitors do not efficiently give rise to myelin-producing cells in people with MS. Yet, UVA’s Alban Gaultier, PhD, and his team made the surprising discovery that they are also actively participating in the immune system’s harmful attacks on myelin.

“This cell type is modulating the inflammatory environment,” said Anthony Fernández-Castañeda, the PhD student who is the first author of the scientific paper outlining the findings. “I was very surprised that these progenitor cells, thought to be a bystander during the inflammatory process, are active contributors to neuroinflammation.”

Promoting Brain Repair

The good news: The new insights into the progenitor cells suggest that doctors could potentially manipulate the environment inside the brain to avoid neurodegeneration and promote brain repair. In the lab, blocking the effects of the cells reduced inflammation and aided in myelin restoration.

“In MS, we have many ways to modulate the initial immune attacks, but we really have no way to promote brain repair,” explained Gaultier. “To come up with a cure, we have to target both aspects of the pathology.”

That will be no easy feat, considering the multiple roles these progenitor cells play. They can’t just be shut down, so scientists would have to develop a more sophisticated approach.

“It’s going to take a lot more work to translate these findings to any form of therapy,” Gaultier said. “We are shining the light on this cell type that very few people have studied as part of the inflammatory response in the brain. More consideration should be given to the varied roles the progenitor cells play when focusing on finding a cure for MS.”

Reference

Fernández-Castañeda, A. et al. (2019). The active contribution of OPCs to neuroinflammation is mediated by LRP1. Acta Neuropathologica. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00401-019-02073-1

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.


Advertisement