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 July 29, 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 July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Nigerian authorities have shut and quarantined a Lagos hospital where a Liberian man died of the Ebola virus, the first recorded case of the highly-infectious disease in Africa's most populous economy. David Pollard reports Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Newsy (July 29, 2014) According to a new study, just five minutes of running or jogging a day could add years to your life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Newsy (July 29, 2014) The Ebola outbreak in West Africa poses little threat to Americans, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 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