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New Study Shows How Primary Progressive MS May Differ from Other Forms of MS

February 9, 2023

Provides possible clues for improving diagnosis and treatment 

Researchers have developed a model for studying primary progressive MS by taking spinal fluid from people with this form of MS and injecting it into mice. These mice experienced damage to the nervous system and movement problems similar to what is typically seen in people with primary progressive MS. This did not happen with spinal fluid samples from people with other types of MS or controls without MS.
  • Background: Primary progressive MS is characterized by worsening neurologic function (accumulation of disability) from the onset of symptoms, without the more common relapses and remissions experienced by people with relapsing forms of MS. Primary progressive MS involves less inflammation of the type seen in relapsing MS, and more damage in the spinal cord than in the brain. Such differences make this form of MS more difficult to diagnose and treat than relapsing forms of MS.
  • This Study: A team led by Dr. Saud Sadiq from the Tisch MS Research Center of New York conducted a series of studies with spinal fluid samples taken from 42 people with different forms of MS and seven controls with other or no diseases. The researchers injected the spinal fluid samples into the spinal column of mice and observed the results.
    • Spinal fluid from people with primary progressive MS caused a disease in mice with the features of primary progressive MS, such as nerve tissue damage in the spinal cord and movement difficulties. Spinal fluid from people with other types of MS or without MS did not cause this damage.
    • The spinal fluid from people with primary progressive MS also appeared to interfere with the normal repair of nerve-insulating myelin.
    • A series of other tests determined that the damaging substance in the spinal fluid was immunoglobulin G, which is a class of antibodies produced by the immune system.
  • The Meaning: These findings point to disease mechanisms that may differ from relapsing forms of MS. Further study is needed to confirm these findings and to translate them to possibly improve diagnosis and to develop treatments that will stop progression and restore function in people with primary progressive MS.
Learn more… Cerebrospinal fluid immunoglobulins in primary progressive multiple sclerosis are pathogenic,” by Jamie K. Wong, Jerry Lin, Nathan J. Kung, Alexandra L. Tse, Serena J. E. Shimshak, Anna K. Roselle, Francesca M. Cali, Jessie Huang, Joseph M. Beaty, Taylor M. Shue and Saud A. Sadiq, is published in Brain (Accepted Manuscript Published: 03 February 2023, available free of charge via open access).

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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