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  • Jefferson Adams

    Scientists Zero in on Cause of Multiple Sclerosis

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Researchers have been looking at the role of myelin proteins in the development multiple sclerosis (MS). A recently published report suggests that additional non-myelin-related protein may also play a role


    Image: CC--walknboston
    Caption: Image: CC--walknboston

    Celiac.com 03/25/2019 - Some researchers have suspected that myelin proteins may be involved in multiple sclerosis (MS). A recent report in Science and Translational Medicine, suggests that additional non-myelin-related protein may also play a role. Researchers examined protein samples from the brains of 31 people who had died from suspected or confirmed MS. They found that T cells from 12 people reacted to the enzyme guanosine diphosphate-L-fucose synthase, or GDP-L-fucose-synthase. The enzyme usually helps to process sugars that are crucial to cell function and communication, including the function and communication of neurons.

    Researcher Dr Roland Martin, from the University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland, has helped to figure out which myelin proteins and peptides come under attack in MS, and which cells and immune molecules do the attacking. Paper coauthor Mireia Sospedra, of University Hospital of Zurich, suggests that “other auto-antigens might be involved in initiating the disease." She believes that the attack on this newly identified auto-antigen triggers tissue damage that exposes other myelin proteins that are likely targets for attack.



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    Sospedra suspects that some variations in myelin protein structure might be susceptible to immune attack, and that genetic variation in immune cells might influence the body’s response to a given infection. She suggests that the offending antigens may differ between individuals, as the structure of our molecular machinery is genetically determined. 

    Northwestern University immunology professor Stephen Miller, who did not work on this research, but has worked with Dr. Martin in the past, suggests that there’s likely not just “one particular virus or bacteria or environmental factor that triggers MS in every patient. There are probably many things that can trigger an autoimmune reaction against a particular infection," he says. "But the more antigens we identify that can contribute to the disease, the better."

    Researchers have pointed out that numerous autoimmune diseases seem to cluster in certain gene sequences. Multiple gene areas seem to correlate with numerous autoimmune conditions. Prior comprehensive genetic association studies have found 90 genetic areas associated with T1DM, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, and/or rheumatoid arthritis.

    Celiac disease and MS sufferers share some things in common, including a tendency to develop rosacea. Rosacea is a common inflammatory skin condition that shares the same genetic risk location as autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and celiac disease. The connections between multiple sclerosis and celiac disease is a common topic of discussions on many forums.

    Read more at: medscape.com

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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