May 25, 2018 – Understanding MS


Anchor lead: Activated immune cells throughout the body are important in multiple sclerosis, Elizabeth Tracey reports

What exactly goes awry in the immune system that results in multiple sclerosis? Recent research by Michael Kornberg, a research fellow and neurologist at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, demonstrates that immune cells utilize a pathway using sugar for energy to get involved, but that’s just part of the answer.

Kornberg: At various times and for reasons we don’t understand immune cells that are directed against myelin become activated in lymph nodes and the spleen, tricks the brain into thinking there may be inflammation there, maybe a virus or something that needs to be fought, and so the blood-brain barrier kind of opens up for these cells. And then you get this collection of immune cells that are all activated and angry and contributing to injury. A lot of the drugs we use for MS keep immune cells from getting into the brain.   :27

The blood-brain barrier normally keeps most things out of our central nervous system to protect it. Kornberg’s recent work suggests that preventing immune cells from becoming activated to begin with helps. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.