Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Münster researchers make ongoing inflammation in the human brain visible

10.11.2016

For the first time, Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (CiM) at Münster University have been able to image ongoing inflammation in the brain of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis.

The ultimate aim in biomedical research is the transfer of results from experiments carried out in animals to patients. Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (CiM) at the University of Münster have succeeded in doing so.


Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have visualized inflammation in the brain of mice (l.) and of MS patients (r.). To do so, they labelled specific enzymes (MMPs).

Reprinted with permission from Gerwien and Hermann et al., Sci. Transl. Med. 8, 364ra152 (2016) 9 November 2016

For the first time, they have been able to image ongoing inflammation in the brain of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). This involved specialists from different disciplines working together in a unique way over several years, combining immunology, neurology and imaging technologies ranging from microscopy to whole-body imaging.

The consequences of an inflammation in the brain can already be shown using a clinically established process: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Making the inflammation itself visible too could, in future, help not only to more accurately diagnose multiple sclerosis patients but also to monitor therapies and apply them in a more specific way. The study has been published in the prestigious journal "Science Translational Medicine".

Occurring mostly in sporadic attacks, the flares associated with multiple sclerosis cause patients considerable discomfort. In this autoimmune disease, immune cells – in other words, cells from the body's own defence system – target the very organism they are supposed to protect. To do so, they must first penetrate the so-called blood-brain barrier to then be able to attack the central nervous system.

For the first time, CiM researchers have used certain enzymes – matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) – to image inflammation in the brain that typically occurs during flares in MS patients. In a preliminary study, biologists and biochemists in a team headed by CiM Spokesperson Prof. Lydia Sorokin discovered that these enzymes play a pivotal role. They had investigated mice with a similar disease to MS and found that MMPs are essential for immune cell penetration of the blood-brain barrier and their migration into the brain, where they cause inflammation.

In order to label these enzymes in the brain and visualize them through specialized imaging techniques, a team of chemists and nuclear medicine specialists headed by one of CiM Coordinators, Prof. Michael Schäfers, developed a tracer – a chemical substance that tracks down the active enzymes in the body and binds to them. The chemists linked the MMP tracer with a fluorescent dye. The fluorescence light signals from such a tracer can be measured using optical imaging techniques. Via the tracer signal the researchers were able to localize and measure the activity of the enzymes, initially in mice. "We found that our observations of MMP activity provided precise information on where immune cells penetrate the blood-brain barrier and where inflammation occurs in the brain," says Dr. Hanna Gerwien, a molecular biologist.

First case studies with patients

The researchers have now succeeded in transferring the method to humans. However, it was not possible to use the fluorescent tracer because its light signal would not penetrate the skull of a patient. The researchers therefore modified the tracer, adding a radioactive signal transmitter instead of a fluorescent dye. The radiation it emits can be measured and made visible using a special method, positron emission tomography (PET). Nuclear medicine specialists and neurologists at the Cluster of Excellence in Münster (who also work at Münster University Hospital) have now carried out the first case studies on MS patients. The result was that in patients with acute attacks of MS the tracer accumulated clearly in defined areas, even before any damage to the blood-brain barrier could be measured using the traditional method, magnetic resonance imaging.

"It really was something special to be able to corroborate something in a patient that had already discovered in basic research in experiments on animals," says Dr. Sven Hermann, an expert in nuclear medicine and small animal imaging, "it's what every scientist dreams of". The scientists also observed, as they predicted, that little or no tracer accumulated after the patients had undergone anti-inflammatory therapy.

The investigation described here is a pilot study. This process has not been used in clinical practice. The work was supported by the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence, the Collaborative Research Centre 656 "Molecular Cardiovascular Imaging" and the Collaborative Research Centre TR-128 "Multiple Sclerosis" at the University of Münster.

Original publication:

Gerwien H*, Hermann S*, Zhang X, Korpos E, Song J, Kopka K, Faust A, Wenning C, Gross CC, Honold L, Melzer N, Opdenakker G, Wiendl H, Schäfers M*, Sorokin L*. Imaging Matrix Metalloproteinase Activity in Multiple Sclerosis as a Specific Marker of Leukocyte Penetration of the Blood-Brain Barrier. Science Translational Medicine, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf8020 (*equal contribution)

Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence/Media contact:

Svenja Ronge
Media Relations Manager
Tel.: +49 251 83-49310
svenja.ronge@uni-muenster.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.uni-muenster.de/Cells-in-Motion/newsviews/2016/11-10.html Further information and detailed picture description (CiM webpage)
http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/8/364/364ra152 Original publication
https://www.uni-muenster.de/Cells-in-Motion/de/ "Cells in Motion" Cluster of Excellence
http://www.sciencemag.org/ "Science" Homepage

Dr. Christina Heimken | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Colorectal cancer risk factors decrypted
13.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

nachricht Algae Have Land Genes
13.07.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>