Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research improves diagnosis and potential treatment of neuromyelitis optica

Date:
December 2, 2011
Source:
Mayo Clinic
Summary:
Researchers have identified critical steps leading to myelin destruction in neuromyelitis optica (NMO), a debilitating neurological disease that is commonly misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis. The findings could lead to better care for the thousands of patients around the world with NMO.

Mayo Clinic researchers have identified critical steps leading to myelin destruction in neuromyelitis optica (NMO), a debilitating neurological disease that is commonly misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis (MS). The findings could lead to better care for the thousands of patients around the world with NMO.

The paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

NMO is an inflammatory autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that damages the optic nerves and spinal cord, causing vision loss, weakness, numbness and, sometimes, arm and leg paralysis and loss of bowel and bladder control. NMO was historically misdiagnosed as a severe variant of MS until 2005 when a team led by Vanda A. Lennon, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic research immunologist, identified an antibody unique to NMO, and discovered that its unexpected target was the major water channel of the central nervous system (aquaporin-4). A blood test emerging from this discovery has revolutionized the diagnosis of NMO, allowing its distinction from multiple sclerosis and introducing more appropriate treatments.

The NMO antibody targets astrocytes, which are 10 times more numerous in the brain and spinal cord than neurons. In addition to providing nutrients to neurons and supporting the repair and scarring process, other critical functions of astrocytes include regulation of tissue water and electrical activities of neurons, and the stabilizing the protective covering of nerves (myelin). By attacking the water channels on astrocytes, the antibody disrupts all related dynamic functions of the astrocyte and in acute attacks kills many astrocytes.

The new findings advance the understanding of the basic mechanisms of NMO, critical to the ultimate development of optimal treatment or even a cure. Key findings include:

  • The antibody associated with NMO affects two forms of the aquaporin-4 water channel: M1 and M23. M1 more readily escapes from antibodies, but antibody binding to M23 causes aggregation of M23 on the astrocyte surface which amplifies cell damage.
  • As a consequence of antibody interfering with the transfer of water in the brain, water accumulates in the myelin sheath, preventing rapid transmission of nerve messages) and causing breakdown of myelin, a traditional hallmark of MS, thus contributing to the diagnostic confusion.
  • Traditional therapies used to treat MS may actually make NMO worse.

"These findings build on our initial research and greatly advance our understanding of disease development and progression in patients with NMO," Dr. Lennon says. "Only by learning more about NMO can we develop new therapies and new approaches to treat people with this terrible disease."

About Neuromyelitis Optica

Because NMO has only recently been identified as a syndrome distinct from MS, it is difficult to know how many people have it. To date the Mayo Clinic Neuroimmunology Laboratory has detected the antibody in three thousand patients in the United States. Thus NMO is more common than was previously thought. Disease progresses with each new attack, and there is no cure. For most patients, a combination of drug and physical therapy is required to manage NMO, with the focus being on preventing recurrent attacks after treatment of the first attack, thus reducing disability and preventing relapses.

Contributing scientists include: Shannon Hinson, Ph.D.; Claudia Lucchinetti, M.D.; Michael Romero, Ph.D.; Bogdan Popescu, M.D.; James Fryer, M.S. and Tuebingen University (Germany) scientists led by Petra Fallier-Becker, Ph.D.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Mayo Clinic. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. R. Hinson, M. F. Romero, B. F. G. Popescu, C. F. Lucchinetti, J. P. Fryer, H. Wolburg, P. Fallier-Becker, S. Noell, V. A. Lennon. Molecular outcomes of neuromyelitis optica (NMO)-IgG binding to aquaporin-4 in astrocytes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1109980108

Cite This Page:

Mayo Clinic. "Research improves diagnosis and potential treatment of neuromyelitis optica." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111202091949.htm>.
Mayo Clinic. (2011, December 2). Research improves diagnosis and potential treatment of neuromyelitis optica. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111202091949.htm
Mayo Clinic. "Research improves diagnosis and potential treatment of neuromyelitis optica." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111202091949.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. 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