April 19, 2016

Myelin repair factors

Vanderbilt researchers show that two factors promote the repair of myelin, the nerve cell covering that deteriorates in diseases such as multiple sclerosis.


In demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis, damage to the myelin sheath that covers nerve axons is the main cause of neurological disabilities. The protein IL-33 is made by the body in response to viruses, and the synthetic compound poly-IC – which mimics virus RNA – is known to induce IL-33 production.

Drawing from earlier observations, Subramaniam Sriram, MBBS, and colleagues explored the activities of poly-IC and IL-33 as agents to promote myelination and myelin repair.

Reporting March 29 in the journal PLOS ONE, they show that addition of poly-IC or IL-33 to cultured cells induces the production of myelin and promotes maturation of myelin progenitor cells. Treatment of animals with poly-IC following the chemical injury of myelin-forming cells resulted in rapid remyelination of the injured area.

These findings suggest that poly-IC and IL-33 are likely to be attractive therapeutic agents for use in human demyelinating disease.

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