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UCR scientists find possible link between MS patients' nerve-covering damage and seizures





























Seema Tiwari-Woodruff, associate professor of biomedical sciences, shows an image of postmortem MS brain section with inflammation in the laboratory at the UC Riverside School of Medicine Research Building in Riverside on Friday, March 24, 2017. UC Riverside scientists have found a possible link between the loss of protective nerve fiber coverings and seizures in multiple sclerosis patients.
Watchara Phomicinda, Staff Photographer

UC Riverside scientists believe they’ve found a possible link between the loss of protective nerve fiber coverings or “demyelination” and seizures in multiple sclerosis patients.

A research team led by Seema Tiwari-Woodruff, an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the UCR School of Medicine, hopes their discovery involving mice could lead to the development of drugs that cut down on MS patients’ seizures.

Their findings were reported in the March 2017 edition of the peer-reviewed journal “Neuroscience.” The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and National Institutes of Health provided research grants.

“We now have a mouse model with which we can work to test and suggest some therapeutic cures,” Tiwari-Woodruff said.

Multiple sclerosis is a potentially disabling autoimmune disease of the brain and spinal cord, or central nervous system. About 2.3 million people in the world have MS.

MS patients’ immune systems attack nerve fibers’ protective coverings, or myelin sheaths, and jam up communication between the brain and the rest of the body, which can damage nerve cells and cause varying symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society reports common symptoms as numbness or tingling in the face, body or extremities; vision problems; fatigue; weakness; trouble walking; loss of balance; and involuntary muscle spasms or spasticity, often in the legs.

Less common symptoms can include swallowing and breathing problems; headaches; tremors/shaking; speech problems (slurring, low volume, stuttering); hearing loss; and skin sensations (itching, stabbing, burning, pins and needles or tearing).

Seizures are another uncommon symptom, which are important because they may indicate a rapid progression to disability and death. However, they're sometimes overlooked and misdiagnosed as spasticity.

MS patients are three to six times more likely than other people to have epileptic seizures, or abnormal hyperactivity of impulse-conducting nerve cells, or neurons. But there hasn’t been much research to find why people have the seizures.

In one UCR study, the six-person team fed mice cuprizone, a copper-binding substance that damages brain cells that produce myelin, for nine weeks and found the mice later had seizures.

The scientists found that the animals’ parvalbumin interneurons – certain brain neurons that reduce hyperactivity – died and theorize that increased hyperactivity led to the seizures.

In a second study, researchers stopped feeding the mice cuprizone after nine or 12 weeks.

The scientists found oligodendrocytes, the brain cells that producemyelin,began to grow again in demyelinated areas andremyelinatemyelin-stripped nerve fibers or axons, the part of a nerve cell that conducts electrical impulses away from the cell body.

Future research will examine how remyelination impacts seizures and compare post-mortem brain tissue from MS patients who had seizures to tissue from patients without seizures to study the cellular basis for the seizures.

The tissue study, which was recently funded by the National MS Society, will investigate how much cuprizone-fed mice research reproduces changes in humans.

The research team included UCR grad students Andrew Lapato and Jenny Szu, senior research associates Jonathan Hasselmann and Anna Khalaj; and UCR Associate Professor in Residence Devin Binder.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by THEPRESSENTERPRISE
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