Supplementing an energy metabolite has potential to treat MS

Supplementing phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis (MS) eased symptoms of the disease in a new study.

The molecule PEP is produced in the body during cellular energy generation. It blocked the production of pro-inflammatory interleukin-17 (IL-17) by inhibiting a protein called JunB, which also suppressed the growth of immune cells called Th17, cells in the immune system that promote auto-immune tissue damage.

The mice in the study were injected daily with high doses of PEP, which, consistent with what it was found to do in laboratory cells, decreased production the production of IL-17 in the lymph nodes and spleens of the animals and suppressed Th17 cell generation.

The MS-like symptoms experienced by the mice were reduced, which the researchers said suggested meant PEP had “therapeutic potential for Th17-mediated autoimmune disorders”, and that “An approach utilising PEP or its derivatives to modulate JunB function may have potential for selective therapy of autoimmunity.”

They added that because such a high dose of PEP was needed, they would also need to look at increasing the efficiency of the molecule.