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Wayne State University researcher's model will target causes of everyday MS symptoms
Date:2/14/2012

ve functions are based.

"Changes in gray matter could well be associated with emotional outbursts," Gow said. "Cells involved in memory and learning are also being destroyed. Whenever those sorts of changes occur, you almost always see frustration in patients as they try to grapple with the resultant loss in mental capacity.

"That causes them to be upset about not being able to do things, even if they don't know that's what's going on physically. This can also lead to them withdrawing from social settings with family and friends, which deepens the impact of MS."

MS patients' more severe symptoms result when the immune system attacks the myelin that surrounds white matter cells, causing lesions that are visible in magnetic resonance imaging scans. Myelin is a soft, white coating of nerve fibers composed of fats and protein that serves as insulation and as an aid to efficient nerve fiber conduction. When myelin is damaged in MS, nerve fiber conduction is faulty or absent, resulting in impaired bodily functions or altered sensations.

Gow said if viewed the right way, lesions also can be seen in gray matter, indicating that neurons and not just oligodendrocytes are being destroyed.

"That then gives us an anatomical basis for memory loss and patients' inability to focus," Gow said.

Because many brain pathways in Gow's model system are similar to those of humans, he is working to understand what happens when gray matter cells are destroyed as a consequence of the body's immune system. The grant will be used to look for more defined lesions in both white and gray matter when myelin is attacked.

Researchers then will look for behavioral changes similar to those seen in MS patients. They will examine white matter for specific changes indicating the presence of biomarker substances that cause MS-like symptoms. If those substances are found, researchers then can try to administer drugs to reverse the effects of th
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Contact: Julie O'Connor
julie.oconnor@wayne.edu
313-577-8845
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research
Source:Eurekalert

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