Sep. 24, 2010
NewsScientific News

New Findings on Multiple Sclerosis

Immune Cells Also Attack Neurons Directly

  • Immune cells (red) attack nerve cells of mice. This leads to lethally elevated calcium levels within the neurons.(Photo: Dr. Volker Siffrin/Copyright: MDC)Immune cells (red) attack nerve cells of mice. This leads to lethally elevated calcium levels within the neurons.(Photo: Dr. Volker Siffrin/Copyright: MDC)

Researchers in Germany have gained new insight into how the immune system causes damage associated with multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable neuroinflammatory disorder. Using imaging tools which enable investigation of processes in living organisms, they were able to show a direct interaction between immune cells and neurons which plays a significant role in neuronal injury. However, this direct interaction may respond to therapeutic intervention. The study by Dr. Volker Siffrin and Professor Dr. Frauke Zipp (formerly Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, MDC, Berlin-Buch, now University Medical Center Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz) has now been published in the journal Immunity.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which a person's own immune system attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms of the disease are variable depending on which nerves are affected, but often include muscle weakness, walking difficulties, numbness and visual disturbances. Research has shown that MS is caused by damage to the protective myelin sheath, an insulating substance that surrounds nerve processes and is critical for transmission of nerve impulses.

Original publication:
Siffrin V. et al.: In Vivo Imaging of Partially Reversible Th17 Cell-Induced Neuronal Dysfunction in the Course of Encephalomyelitis. Immunity, Volume 33, Issue 3, 424-436, 24 September 2010

http://www.mdc-berlin.de/

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