Researchers Discover MS Starts In Brain’s Outer Layers

Medical experts previously believed that multiple sclerosis may develop from deep inside the brain going out. But researchers have recently discovered that this may not be the case. There are also indications that MS may develop from the outermost parts of the brain going deeper.

A collaborative effort between researchers from Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic have indicated that multiple sclerosis may develop from the cerebrospinal fluid-filled subarachnoid space that provides cushioning to the outer portions of the brain and into the brain’s white matter. The discovery was not the initial objective of the study. The researchers initially sought out to determine what tissue changes happening in the cortex of MS patients that will lead to indicators of cortical damage. From several years’ worth of MRI studies, the researchers have known that cortical damage is already evident very early after the onset of MS. They also know that the cortex was demyelinated from autopsy studies of MS patients, along with damage to the brain’s white matter. But what the researchers don’t necessarily know then was that whether the findings during the autopsy, which were usually undertaken 20 to 50 years after disease onset, may be reflecting the indicators of cortical damage accurately from the MRI images taken only a few months after the onset of the said disease.

Claudia F. Lucchinetti, M.D., co-lead author of the study and Mayo Clinic neurologist and Richard Ransohoff, M.D., a Cleveland Clinic neurologist and the study’s co-lead author tried to determine whether the early cortical lesions found in the MS patients were inflammatory. In order to do this, the researchers studied and analyzed white matter biopsies taken from patients with suspected tumors in the brain but was eventually diagnosed as having MS.

The researchers noted that not only were the cortical lesions were highly inflammatory at the disease onset. But the researchers also discovered that certain level of inflammation was also present in the meninges which is the protective membrane covering the surface of the brain that separates the subarachnoid space. The discovery indicated that meningeal inflammation and cortical demyelination were highly connected to each other.

Through the data gathered, the researchers may be able to map out a possible pathway for lesion development at the onset of MS. Along with know experimental data taken from studies involving MS animal models, the researchers may be able to develop an “outside-in” theory of MS progression.

Source: Medical News Today

 
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