Study: Pregnancy Hormone Reduces MS Symptoms

shutterstock_108190541It has long been known that women with MS are more likely to get better when they become pregnant. Now, a researcher has identified the possible reasons why- a female hormone called estriol. The results of the study were presented at the meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Philadelphia last April.

Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl, a neurologist at UCLA and lead author of the said study, combined the female hormone estriol, which is abundant in a woman’s body when she is pregnant, with Copaxone, a medication used to treat multiple sclerosis. The combination reduced the relapse rate of MS by as much as 50 percent after a year of treatment.

The ramdomized, placebo-controlled double-blind trial involved 158 women who suffer from relapsing-remitting MS from 16 sites across the US. One group was treated with Copaxone and with an 8mg estriol pill. Other groups received Copaxone and a placebo pill. After a year of treatment, the Copaxone-estriol group had a 47 percent lower relapse rate than those who took the Copaxone-placebo combination. In addition, the group that took the Copaxone and estriol also scored higher on cognitive tests as compared to the other group.

Dr. Voskuhl also noted that after two years of treatment, those who took the Copaxone-placebo combination also showed signs of improvement. But the results took longer and were not as strong as exhibited by the Copaxone-estriol group.

Dr. Voskuhl added, “Currently, all of the available drugs reduce immune attacks on the brain, but none of them protects the brain. Estriol is particularly promising because it both reduces attacks and protects the brain directly. It’s a two-pronged approach — an anti-inflammatory prong to reduce the attacks, and a neuroprotective prong to make the brain suffer less damage in case of an attack.”

Source: UCLA Newsroom

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