Recently Discovered Receptor May Hold Key To MS Treatment

A recently discovered receptor that functions to control the movement of immune cells through the central nervous system barriers may hold the key to treating multiple sclerosis. Researchers at Cornell University have shown how the A2A adenosine receptor acts as a gateway on the blood-brain barrier cells, allowing the immune cells to enter the brain and attack the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells. This eventually results in the havoc that is typically seen in people suffering from MS.

The blood-brain barrier is composed of specialized cells that prevent certain substances and compounds from traveling from the bloodstream and into the brain. According to Margaret Bynoe, associate professor of immunology at the Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the senior author of the said study, “We found that expression of this A2A adenosine receptor is important for regulating the entry of cells into the brain; whereby its activation allows immune cell entry and its inhibition blocks entry.”

In the said study, Cornell researchers used mice where the A2A adenosine receptor was removed and then was infused with normal immune cells coming from wild-type mice expressing the A2A adenosine receptor. This led to chimeric mice expressing the A2A adenosine receptor on immune cells but not on the blood-brain barrier cells. Without the A2A adenosine receptor on the blood-brain barrier cells, the normal immune cells were not able to effectively infiltrate into the central nervous system, thereby protecting the mice that only led to them developing less-severe symptoms of a disease similar to MS.

Bynoe further added, “The absence of the A2A receptor on blood-brain barrier cells is similar to the effect of pharmacologically blocking the receptor with antagonists [drugs], which also protected mice from MS-like disease. The implications of these findings are that, potentially, modulation of this receptor can be beneficial for future treatment of MS.” The findings of the study appeared on the print and online editions of the Journal of Immunology last June 1.

Source: MedicalXpress

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