According to a recent study, published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology, the B-cells of patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) secrete toxic substances that cause neurons and myelin-forming cells to die. However, researchers were unable to identify the molecules responsible for the toxicity.
The doctors leading the research - Dr. Robert Lisak of Wayne State University in Detroit, Dr. Amit Bar-Or of McGill University in Montreal - and their teams are now working on identifying the factor that cause cell death, and discover if there is a link to progressive MS.
In the lab, researchers looked at the blood of RRMS patients and discovered that B-cells killed lab-grown neurons and oligodendrocyte cells, which form myelin, a protective coating for nerve cells. Deterioration of the myelin coating and the death of neurons are hallmarks of MS.
The team had previously conducted research with just three people and three controls, which found that B-cells from MS patients kill oligodendrocytes, so they went on to include 13 patients and 13 controls.
These toxic molecules were found to have no impact on other types of central nervous system cells, they only killed neurons and myelin-producing cells.
Researchers said the B-cells trigger a process called apoptosis that tells the cell to die when exposed to stressful factors or toxins.
Although the research teams screened around 40 inflammation-related substances they were unable to identify what caused the cells to die.
In the next phase of the study, the teams plan to learn more about the working process of this toxin and the cause.
In addition to testing B-cells from progressive MS patients, the team will examine patients with other autoimmune conditions to see if the process is unique to MS or not.
Source: MS-UK (13/07/17)