High Levels of Immune Protein Found In Spinal Fluid of MS Patients

A certain protein known to subdue the body’s immune response has been found to be more abundant in the spinal fluid of people suffering from multiple sclerosis. The said protein, identified as TREM-2, may be seen as a contributor to the development of the disease although further studies may be needed to establish it.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that excess TREM-2 freely floating in the spinal fluid of people with MS. TREM-2 is considered as a receptor protein known to dampen immune response in the body. The researchers also compared the levels of the same form of protein with people suffering from various types of MS as well as other conditions associated with an impaired central nervous system. The scientists found that the soluble form of TREM-2 was significantly higher in people with MS.

Although multiple sclerosis is considered as a result of an overactive immune system, the existence of the excess TREM-2 protein in the spinal fluid of MS patients do not seem to provide any beneficial effects. The high levels of such immune dampening protein in the spinal fluid shows that this might not be the case. Scientists believe that the said protein may not be located in the area of the body where it may be able do its job properly.

The researchers believe that the excess TREM-2 in the spinal fluid can make it more difficult for the same protein attached into immune cells to keep the immune response under control. As a receptor cell, TREM-2 requires another molecule in order to activate it. Currently, the researchers have no idea what that molecule is. What the researchers have theorized is that the activator molecule may have already bound itself to the excess TREM-2 molecules found in the spinal fluid, making them unable to bind with TREM-2 protein cells attached to the immune cells in order to activate it.

If the said theory is thus proved through further research in addition to the discovery of the yet unknown activator cell, it may well be another new target where future MS treatments can be developed from.

Source: http://www.mssociety.org.uk/research/news_in_research/research_news/trem2.html

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