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Society-Funded Researchers Show How Brain “Plumbing” May Trigger MS-Like Immune Attacks in Mice

September 17, 2018

In the latest of a series of recent discoveries about a previously underappreciated network of drainage tubes (“lymphatic vessels”) in the brain, National MS Society-funded researchers at the University of Virginia and elsewhere report more details about the function of these tubes and how they connect the brain to the immune system. In a paper published today in Nature Neuroscience, Dr. Jonathan Kipnis and colleagues show that during inflammation such as what occurs in MS, immune cells within the lymphatic vessels receive signals that encourage immune attacks on brain tissues in mice with MS-like disease. They also found that blocking the tubes reduced disease severity in the mice. Although this treatment approach would likely be impractical or harmful to people, this study provides new clues to how damaging immune attacks may be triggered in MS, and may offer new avenues for stopping them in the future. 

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. 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. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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