People with multiple sclerosis (MS) have a gradual increase in dysfunction. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have found a possible explanation for the progressive course of the disease in mice and how to reverse it.Research published in Scientific immunology, It can prove to be valuable for future treatments.
MS is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS) and is one of the leading causes of neurological dysfunction.
The disease is generally diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 30. It can cause severe neurological symptoms such as loss of sensation and tremors, difficulty walking and maintaining balance, memory loss, and visual impairment. Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong illness, and symptoms often worsen over time.
Deteriorating with age
Most often, the disease occurs with a seizure, followed by some recovery. However, it is inevitable that functionality will gradually be lost over time. Research has made great strides in treatments that reduce the frequency and adverse effects of these attacks.
Despite these important breakthroughs, the disease generally worsens when the patient has it for 10 to 20 years. Currently, there is only one recently approved treatment called secondary progression. Further research is needed on the mechanisms behind this stage of progression. “
Maja Jagodic, President of Experimental Medicine, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Center for Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Institute
Possible explanations for microglia
Researchers at the Karolinska Institute have shown that recovery from MS-like symptoms in mice depends on the ability of the CNS’s own immune cells (microglia) to break down the debris of damaged cells such as myelin.
The process was interrupted when researchers removed the so-called autophagy gene. Atg7.. Autophagy is the process by which cells normally break down and recycle their own proteins and other structural components.
None Atg7 The ability of microglia to clear tissue residues caused by inflammation has diminished. These residues accumulate over time, which is a possible explanation for the progression of the disease.
This study also shows how microglia in old mice resemble the cells of young mice that were deficient. Atg7 In terms of flaws in this process, it adversely affected the course of the disease.
Stop the progress of MS
This is an important result as aging is an important risk factor in the advanced stages of MS. Researchers have also shown how this process can be reversed.
“Plant and fungal sugar trehalose restores the functional degradation of myelin residues, stops their progression, and leads to recovery from MS-like disease,” says PhD student Rasmus Berglund. “We hope that by strengthening this process, one day we will be able to treat and prevent the age-related aspects of neuroinflammation.”
Berglund, R. , et al. (2020) The autophagy-related phagocytosis of microglia is essential for recovery from neuroinflammation. Scientific immunology. doi.org/10.1126/sciimmunol.abb5077.