Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Selectively blocking inflammatory signals may protect mice from MS

10.05.2006
A new way to preserve the cells that surround and protect nerves could lead to new treatments for demyelinating diseases such a multiple sclerosis, a research team reports in the May 10, 2006, issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

The approach grew out of a novel explanation, quickly gaining followers, for the mechanism of nerve damage caused by multiple sclerosis. Instead of concentrating on the alterations that result in autoimmune assaults on the nervous system, researchers led by Brian Popko of the University of Chicago have focused on a set of factors that prevent recovery from the inflammatory attacks.

A series of papers from Popko’s lab has demonstrated that interferon-gamma -- a chemical signal used to activate the immune system -- plays a critical role in damaging the cells that produce myelin, the protective coating that lines healthy nerves. Interferon not only leaves these cells, called oligodendrocytes, incapable of repairing the damage but can also kill them directly.

"Interferon-gamma is not normally found in the nervous system," said Popko, the Jack Miller Professor of Neurological Diseases at the University of Chicago, "but it can gain entry after an inflammatory flare-up. We previously showed how it harmed oligodendrocytes. Here we confirm its direct harmful effects on those cells and demonstrate one way of protecting them."

The researchers produced a series of transgenic mice. In one set they introduced genes that produced interferon-gamma within the central nervous system. In another set they also introduced a gene (known as suppressor of cytokine signaling 1, or SOCS1) that blocked the response of myelin-producing cells to interferon-gamma.

Although transgenic mice with low levels of interferon-gamma showed no symptoms of nervous system damage, 18 out of 20 mice exposed to higher interferon levels developed difficulty walking, including mild to moderate tremors, within two weeks of birth. Only four out of 20 mice with both high interferon levels and the SOCS1 gene had symptoms.

On autopsy, mice with high interferon levels in the nervous system had severe loss of oligodendrocytes, ranging from 20 to 40 percent. Those with the protective SOCS1 gene lost only eight to 15 percent.

High interferon levels were also associated with loss of myelin sheaths around nerve connections and unprotected axons in the brain. Again, SOCS1 was able to reduce the damage.

"Together," the researchers wrote, "these data demonstrate that oligodendroglial expression of SOCS1 protects mice from the clinical and morphological consequences of IFN-gamma expression in the central nervous system during development."

"We found this tremendously encouraging," said Popko. "SOCS1 prevented or reduced the harmful effects of interferon gamma on myelin-producing cells. This study solidifies our suspicions about interferon’s specific role in demyelinating disease and suggests ways to block it."

Although there is currently no reliable way to deliver SOCS1 directly to the nerves of a patient with multiple sclerosis, this protective approach could be combined with stem cell therapy to repair nerve damage. Several research groups are already studying the use of stem cells to repair damaged myelin sheaths, but in the long term those stem cells would be vulnerable to ongoing immune-mediated damage.

But if stem cells could be engineered to resist harmful signals such as interferon-gamma, they might be protected from the "harsh environment" present in immune mediated demyelinated lesions, said Popko.

John Easton | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uchospitals.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht X-ray experiments reveal two different types of water
27.06.2017 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY

nachricht What Makes Stem Cells into Perfect Allrounders
27.06.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>