Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New findings on multiple sclerosis: Immune cells also attack neurons directly

Date:
September 24, 2010
Source:
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Summary:
Researchers in Germany have gained new insight into how the immune system causes damage associated with multiple sclerosis, an incurable neuroinflammatory disorder. Using imaging tools which enable investigation of processes in living organisms, the scientists show a direct interaction between immune cells and neurons which plays a significant role in neuronal injury.

Researchers in Germany have gained new insight into how the immune system causes damage associated with multiple sclerosis, 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 has now been published in the journal Immunity.
Credit: 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 Delbrόck 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.

Research has also indicated that direct damage to neurons is prominent in early disease stages. "The contribution of direct neuronal damage to MS pathology has been debated since the first description of the disease," explained Professor Frauke Zipp, senior author of the study. "Although many different theories about possible underlying mechanisms have been proposed -- such as neuron damage being a secondary effect of the disrupted myelin sheath -- actual events leading to neural damage are not well understood."

To investigate processes in the living organisms, Dr. Zipp and her colleagues used two-photon laser scanning microscopy (TPLSM), with which they studied the role immune cells play in neuronal damage in mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of MS. They observed direct synapse-like interactions between immune cells and neurons.

Immune cells called Th17 cells, which have been linked to autoimmune inflammation, induced elevated calcium levels in the neurons, which in the long run are toxic to the cells. Normally, calcium within the neuron plays a crucial role in exciting nerve cells as well as muscle cells.

This is significant because fluctuations in neuronal intracellular calcium levels that are linked to cell injury are partially reversible when the researchers expose the lesions of the animals to compounds used to treat excitotoxicity.

These results highlight a specific interaction between the immune system and the nervous system, implicating direct neuronal damage in autoimmune-mediated inflammation. "Our use of in vivo imaging during disease has led to the characterization of neuronal dysfunction as early and potentially reversible, and suggests that immune-mediated disturbances of the neurons themselves contribute to multiple sclerosis, in addition to interruptions in nerve cell transmission as a result of changes to the myelin sheath," Professor Zipp concluded.

"Furthermore, immune-mediated reversible calcium increases in neurons are a potential target for future therapeutics." However, it will take many years to find out if this is a strategy which will work for treating MS.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Volker Siffrin, Helena Radbruch, Robert Glumm, Raluca Niesner, Magdalena Paterka, Josephine Herz, Tina Leuenberger, Sabrina M. Lehmann, Sarah Luenstedt, Jan Leo Rinnenthal, Gregor Laube, Hervι Luche, Seija Lehnardt, Hans-Joerg Fehling, Oliver Griesbeck, Frauke Zipp. In Vivo Imaging of Partially Reversible Th17 Cell-Induced Neuronal Dysfunction in the Course of Encephalomyelitis. Immunity, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2010.08.018

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "New findings on multiple sclerosis: Immune cells also attack neurons directly." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100923125113.htm>.
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. (2010, September 24). New findings on multiple sclerosis: Immune cells also attack neurons directly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100923125113.htm
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "New findings on multiple sclerosis: Immune cells also attack neurons directly." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100923125113.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) — Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins