Drug for High Blood Pressure Seen as Possible MS Treatment

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine may have found a link between high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis. The findings may suggest that a relatively safe and inexpensive drug used to treat high blood pressure may have some therapeutic effect on the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Lawrence Steinman, MD, neurology professor and senior author of the study, is excited about the possibilities but still cautions that further studies and extensive clinical work might still be needed to determine the effect of a drug called lisinopril on the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Steinman came upon this discovery when he saw the association between multiple sclerosis and a fast acting hormone called angiotensin that abounds in the blood vessel walls throughout the body. This hormone can cause the blood vessels to constrict in response to certain changes such as sudden movement and change of posture.  It can suddenly raise the blood pressure. Overactivity of this hormone can cause chronic hypertension in people. Lisinopril helps control blood pressure by blocking a certain enzyme that converts a precursor of angiotensin into an active hormone. The said drug also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Dr. Steinman and his colleagues decided to study the association between angiotensin and multiple sclerosis further. They initially examined brain lesions autopsied from MS patients and discovered that there were significantly elevated levels of both the angiotensin receptor as well as the enzyme that lisinopril blocks.

The researchers then turned to studying an animal model of laboratory bred mice that developed brain lesions similar to those found in multiple sclerosis upon introduction of a certain chemical into their system. Some of the mice were given doses of lisinopril prior to immunization of the chemical that causes the brain lesions. This led to the mice not developing the paralysis characteristic of disease progression as shown by the mice not given lisinopril. The researchers found out that lisinopril reduced inflammation associated with MS.

Another significant finding is that the drug did not inhibit the immune competence in the mice model. The administration of the said drug also seems to trigger the proliferation of an important class of immune cells called regulatory T cells that help prevent autoimmune diseases by controlling the activity of other immune cells that mistakenly attack healthy cells and tissues. These finding all provide promising results that lisinopril may possibly have a significant affect in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817184437.htm

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