Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling, disease of the central nervous system affecting more than 1 in 1,000 people in most western countries. The inflammatory lesions typical of multiple sclerosis show autoimmune features and depend partly on genetic factors. Of these genetic factors, only the HLA gene complex has been repeatedly confirmed to be associated with multiple sclerosis, despite considerable efforts. Polymorphisms in a number of non-HLA genes have been reported to be associated with multiple sclerosis, but so far confirmation has been difficult. Here, we report compelling evidence that polymorphisms in IL7R, which encodes the interleukin 7 receptor alpha chain (IL7Ralpha), indeed contribute to the non-HLA genetic risk in multiple sclerosis, demonstrating a role for this pathway in the pathophysiology of this disease. In addition, we report altered expression of the genes encoding IL7Ralpha and its ligand, IL7, in the cerebrospinal fluid compartment of individuals with multiple sclerosis.
Human autoimmune diseases are thought to develop through a complex combination of genetic and environmental factors. Genome-wide linkage searches of autoimmune and inflammatory/immune disorders have identified a large number of non-major histocompatibility complex loci that collectively contribute to disease susceptibility. A comparison was made of the linkage results from 23 published autoimmune or immune-mediated disease genome-wide scans. Human diseases included multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, familial psoriasis, asthma, and type-I diabetes (IDDM). Experimental animal disease studies included murine experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, rat inflammatory arthritis, rat and murine IDDM, histamine sensitization, immunity to exogenous antigens, and murine lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus; SLE). A majority (approximately 65%) of the human positive linkages map nonrandomly into 18 distinct clusters. Overlapping of susceptibility loci occurs between different human immune diseases and by comparing conserved regions with experimental autoimmune/immune disease models. This nonrandom clustering supports a hypothesis that, in some cases, clinically distinct autoimmune diseases may be controlled by a common set of susceptibility genes.
Ectopic lymphoid follicles are hallmarks of chronic autoimmune inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren's syndrome, and myasthenia gravis. However, the effector cells and mechanisms that induce their development are unknown. Here we showed that in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the animal model of MS, Th17 cells specifically induced ectopic lymphoid follicles in the central nervous system (CNS). Development of ectopic lymphoid follicles was partly dependent on the cytokine interleukin 17 (IL-17) and on the cell surface molecule Podoplanin (Pdp), which was expressed on Th17 cells, but not on other effector T cell subsets. Pdp was also crucial for the development of secondary lymphoid structures: Pdp-deficient mice lacked peripheral lymph nodes and had a defect in forming normal lymphoid follicles and germinal centers in spleen and lymph node remnants. Thus, Th17 cells are uniquely endowed to induce tissue inflammation, characterized by ectopic lymphoid follicles within the target organ.
Representational difference analysis was used to search for pathogens in multiple sclerosis brains. We detected a 341-nucleotide fragment that was 99.4% identical to the major DNA binding protein gene of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6). Examination of 86 brain specimens by PCR demonstrated that HHV-6 was present in > 70% of MS cases and controls and is thus a commensal virus of the human brain. By DNA sequencing, 36/37 viruses from MS cases and controls were typed as HHV-6 variant B group 2. Other herpesviruses, retroviruses, and measles virus were detected infrequently or not at all. HHV-6 expression was examined by immunocytochemistry with monoclonal antibodies against HHV-6 virion protein 101K and DNA binding protein p41. Nuclear staining of oligodendrocytes was observed in MS cases but not in controls, and in MS cases it was observed around plaques more frequently than in uninvolved white matter. MS cases showed prominent cytoplasmic staining of neurons in gray matter adjacent to plaques, although neurons expressing HHV-6 were also found in certain controls. Since destruction of oligodendrocytes is a hallmark of MS, these studies suggest an association of HHV-6 with the etiology or pathogenesis of MS.
The molecular mechanisms underlying myelin sheath destruction in multiple sclerosis lesions remain unresolved. With immunogold-labeled peptides of myelin antigens and high-resolution microscopy, techniques that can detect antigen-specific antibodies in situ, we have identified autoantibodies specific for the central nervous system myelin antigen myelin/oligodendrocyte glycoprotein. These autoantibodies were specifically bound to disintegrating myelin around axons in lesions of acute multiple sclerosis and the marmoset model of allergic encephalomyelitis. These findings represent direct evidence that autoantibodies against a specific myelin protein mediate target membrane damage in central nervous system demyelinating disease.
Multiple sclerosis is characterized morphologically by the key features demyelination, inflammation, gliosis and axonal damage. In recent years, it has become more evident that axonal damage is the major morphological substrate of permanent clinical disability. In our study, we investigated the occurrence of acute axonal damage determined by immunocytochemistry for amyloid precursor protein (APP) which is produced in neurones and accumulates at sites of recent axon transection or damage. The numbers of APP-positive axons in multiple sclerosis lesions were correlated with the disease duration and course. Most APP-positive axons were detected within the first year after disease onset, but acute axonal damage was also detected to a minor degree in lesions of patients with a disease duration of 10 years and more. This effect was not due to the lack of active demyelinating lesions in the chronic disease stage. Late remyelinated lesions (so-called shadow plaques) did not show signs of axon destruction. The number of inflammatory cells showed a decrease over time similar to that of the number of APP-positive axons. There was a significant correlation between the extent of axon damage and the numbers of CD8-positive cytotoxic T cells and macrophages/microglia. Our results indicate that a putative axon-protective treatment should start as early as possible and include strategies preventing T cell/macrophage-mediated axon destruction and leading to remyelination of axons.
Functional principal components (FPC) analysis is widely used to decompose and express functional observations. Curve estimates implicitly condition on basis functions and other quantities derived from FPC decompositions; however these objects are unknown in practice. In this article, we propose a method for obtaining correct curve estimates by accounting for uncertainty in FPC decompositions. Additionally, pointwise and simultaneous confidence intervals that account for both model- and decomposition-based variability are constructed. Standard mixed model representations of functional expansions are used to construct curve estimates and variances conditional on a specific decomposition. Iterated expectation and variance formulas combine model-based conditional estimates across the distribution of decompositions. A bootstrap procedure is implemented to understand the uncertainty in principal component decomposition quantities. Our method compares favorably to competing approaches in simulation studies that include both densely and sparsely observed functions. We apply our method to sparse observations of CD4 cell counts and to dense white-matter tract profiles. Code for the analyses and simulations is publicly available, and our method is implemented in the R package refund on CRAN.
The presence of oligoclonal bands (OCB) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a typical finding in multiple sclerosis (MS). We applied data from Norwegian, Swedish and Danish (i.e. Scandinavian) MS patients from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to search for genetic differences in MS relating to OCB status. GWAS data was compared in 1367 OCB positive and 161 OCB negative Scandinavian MS patients, and nine of the most associated SNPs were genotyped for replication in 3403 Scandinavian MS patients. HLA-DRB1 genotypes were analyzed in a subset of the OCB positive (n = 2781) and OCB negative (n = 292) MS patients and compared to 890 healthy controls. Results from the genome-wide analyses showed that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the HLA complex and six other loci were associated to OCB status. In SNPs selected for replication, combined analyses showed genome-wide significant association for two SNPs in the HLA complex; rs3129871 (p = 5.7×10(-15)) and rs3817963 (p = 5.7×10(-10)) correlating with the HLA-DRB1*15 and the HLA-DRB1*04 alleles, respectively. We also found suggestive association to one SNP in the Calsyntenin-2 gene (p = 8.83×10(-7)). In HLA-DRB1 analyses HLA-DRB1*15∶01 was a stronger risk factor for OCB positive than OCB negative MS, whereas HLA-DRB1*04∶04 was associated with increased risk of OCB negative MS and reduced risk of OCB positive MS. Protective effects of HLA-DRB1*01∶01 and HLA-DRB1*07∶01 were detected in both groups. The groups were different with regard to age at onset (AAO), MS outcome measures and gender. This study confirms both shared and distinct genetic risk for MS subtypes in the Scandinavian population defined by OCB status and indicates different clinical characteristics between the groups. This suggests differences in disease mechanisms between OCB negative and OCB positive MS with implications for patient management, which need to be further studied.
Recent studies of the spinal cord and cerebellum have highlighted the importance of atrophy in the development of neurological impairment in multiple sclerosis. We have therefore developed a technique to quantify the volume of another area commonly involved pathologically in multiple sclerosis: the cerebral white matter. The technique we describe extracts the brain from the skull on four contiguous 5 mm periventricular slices using an algorithm integrated in an image analysis package, and quantifies their volume. Intra-observer scan-rescan reproducibility was 0.56%. We have applied this technique serially to 29 patients with multiple sclerosis selected for an 18-month treatment trial with a monoclonal antibody against CD4+ lymphocytes (deemed clinically ineffective). A decrease in volume beyond the 95% confidence limits for measurement variation was seen in 16 patients by the end of the 18-month period. The rate of development of atrophy was significantly higher in those who had a sustained deterioration in their Kurtzke expanded disability status scale (EDSS) score compared with those who did not (respective means: -6.4 ml year-1 and -1.8 ml year-1, P < 0.05) but in both groups these changes differed significantly from baseline (P < 0.05). Baseline T2 lesion load, change in T2 lesion load over 18 months and the volume of new gadolinium enhancing lesions on monthly scans for the first 10 months showed no correlation with the development of atrophy. This study demonstrates that progressive cerebral atrophy can be detected in individual patients with multiple sclerosis, correlates with worsening disability and gives additional information to that obtained with conventional MRI. The effect of putative therapies aimed at preventing disability could be objectively assessed by this measure.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that may involve inflammatory responses in the central nervous system (CNS). Our objective was to determine whether patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), a preclinical stage of AD, have inflammatory characteristics similar to patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), a known CNS inflammatory disease. The frequency of lymphocytes and levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the cerebrospinal fluid of aMCI patients was comparable to MS patients or patients at high risk to develop MS. Thus, brain inflammation occurs early at the preclinical stage of AD and may have an important role in pathology.
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) has a prevalence of 0.1-0.2 per thousand and an incidence ranging from about 4-5/100,000/year up to 20/100,000/year after age 60. The female-to-male ratio is about 3:2. A review of several case series shows that pain is more predominant on the right side, but the difference is not statistically significant. TN is significantly associated with arterial hypertension, Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathy, glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GN) and multiple sclerosis. GN has an incidence of 0.7/100,000/year and epidemiological studies have shown it to be less severe than previously thought. Post-herpetic neuralgia has a comparable incidence to idiopathic TN. The epidemiology of the central causes of facial pain is still unclear, but it is known that persistent idiopathic facial pain is a widespread, not easily manageable problem.
Working memory impairment is frequently observed in patients with early multiple sclerosis (MS). MRI and functional MRI studies have shown that working memory impairment is mostly due to diffuse white matter (WM) damage affecting the connectivity between distant cortical areas. However, working memory deficits in early MS patients can be either completely or partly masked by compensatory functional plasticity. It seems likely that concomitantly with the WM bundle injury resulting from pathological processes, the functional plasticity present in early MS patients may be accompanied by reactive structural WM plasticity. This structural plasticity may effectively compensate for connectivity disturbances and/or contribute to functional brain reorganization. The diffusion characteristics of WM bundles involved in working memory were assessed here by performing quantitative diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography on 24 patients with early relapsing-remitting MS and 15 healthy control subjects. The DTI tractography findings showed that WM connections constituting the executive system of working memory were structurally impaired (the fractional anisotropy was lower than normal and the mean diffusivity, higher than normal). A significantly larger number of connections between the left and right thalami was concurrently observed in the MS patients than in the control subjects, which suggests that the WM is endowed with reactive structural plasticity.
Glatiramer acetate is a synthetic, random copolymer widely used as a first-line agent for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). While earlier studies primarily attributed its clinical effect to a shift in the cytokine secretion of CD4+ T helper (T(h)) cells, growing evidence in MS and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), suggests that glatiramer acetate treatment is associated with a broader immunomodulatory effect on cells of both the innate and adaptive immune system. To date, glatiramer acetate-mediated modulation of antigen-presenting cells (APC) such as monocytes and dendritic cells, CD4+ T(h) cells, CD8+ T cells, Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and antibody production by plasma cells have been reported; in addition, most recent investigations indicate that glatiramer acetate treatment may also promote regulatory B-cell properties. Experimental evidence suggests that, among these diverse effects, a fostering interplay between anti-inflammatory T-cell populations and regulatory type II APC may be the central axis in glatiramer acetate-mediated immune modulation of CNS autoimmune disease. Besides altering inflammatory processes, glatiramer acetate could exert direct neuroprotective and/or neuroregenerative properties, which could be of relevance for the treatment of MS, but even more so for primarily neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. In this review, we provide a comprehensive and critical overview of established and recent findings aiming to elucidate the complex mechanism of action of glatiramer acetate.
France is located in an area with a medium to high prevalence of multiple sclerosis, where its epidemiology is not well known. We estimated the national and regional prevalence of multiple sclerosis in France on 31 October 2004 and the incidence between 31 October 2003 and 31 October 2004 based on data from the main French health insurance system: the Caisse Nationale d'Assurance Maladie des Travailleurs Salariés. The Caisse Nationale d'Assurance Maladie des Travailleurs Salariés insures 87% of the French population. We analysed geographic variations in the prevalence and incidence of multiple sclerosis in France using the Bayesian approach. On the 31 October 2004, 49 417 people were registered with multiple sclerosis out of the 52 359 912 insured with the Caisse Nationale d'Assurance Maladie des Travailleurs Salariés. Among these, 4497 were new multiple sclerosis cases declared between 31 October 2003 and 31 October 2004. After standardization for age, total multiple sclerosis prevalence in France was 94.7 per 100,000 (94.3-95.1); 130.5 (129.8-131.2) in females and 54.8 (54.4-55.3) in males. The national incidence of multiple sclerosis between 31 October 2003 and 31 October 2004 was 7.5 per 100,000 (7.3-7.6); 10.4 (10.2-10.6) in females and 4.2 (4.0-4.3) in males. The prevalence and incidence of multiple sclerosis were higher in North-Eastern France, but there was no obvious North-South gradient. This study is the first performed among a representative population of France (87%) using the same method throughout. The Bayesian approach, which takes into account spatial heterogeneity among geographical units and spatial autocorrelation, did not confirm the existence of a prevalence gradient but only a higher prevalence of multiple sclerosis in North-Eastern France and a lower prevalence of multiple sclerosis in the Paris area and on the Mediterranean coast.
Experimental and clinical data suggest a protective effect of estrogens on the development and progression of MS.
We assessed whether MS incidence was associated with oral contraceptive use or parity in two cohort studies of U.S. women, the Nurses' Health Study (NHS; 121,700 women aged 30 to 55 years at baseline in 1976) and the Nurses' Health Study II (NHS II; 116,671 women aged 25 to 42 years at baseline in 1989). Participants with a diagnosis of MS before baseline were excluded. Oral contraceptive history and parity were assessed at baseline and updated biennially. During follow-ups of 18 years (NHS) and 8 years (NHS II) we documented a total of 315 definite or probable cases of MS.
Neither use of oral contraceptives nor parity were significantly associated with the risk of MS. As compared with women who never used oral contraceptives, the age-adjusted relative risk (95% CI) was 1.2 (0.9, 1.5) for past users, and 1.0 (0.6, 1.7) for current users. Similar results were obtained after adjustment for latitude, ancestry, and other potential confounding factors. There was no clear trend of MS risk with either increasing duration of use or time elapsed since last use. Age at first birth was also not associated with the risk of MS.
These prospective results do not support a lasting protective effect of oral contraceptive use or pregnancy on the risk of MS. The decision to use hormonal contraception should not be affected by its effects on the risk of MS.
Voltage-gated Kv1.3 and Ca2+-activated IKCa1 K+ channels play a pivotal role in antigen-dependent activation and proliferation of lymphocytes. These channels primarily determine the membrane potential of T cells, and thus regulate the magnitude of the Ca2+ signal required for efficient gene transcription and subsequent proliferation. Although these facts are generally well described and acknowledged, some recent discoveries have motivated research in this field, which is reviewed herein along with the basic biophysical characterization of Kv1.3 and IKCa1. The discovery of T cell subset-specific expression of Kv1.3 points towards the potential therapeutic use of high affinity and high specificity Kv1.3 inhibitors as specific immunosuppressors in the management of autoimmune diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis. In meeting the demands for an ideal immunosuppressor, several laboratories have discovered potent natural Kv1.3- specific inhibitors and engineered peptides which have a better pharmacological profile based on the biophysical characterization of the interaction surface between the channel pore and the toxins. In contrast to the generally accepted permissive role of Kv1.3 during lymphocyte activation, the discovery of the localization of Kv1.3 in the immunological synapse might open new opportunities in the regulation of T cell activation by this channel species.
To evaluate the effect of a software-supported intervention based on the Transtheoretical Model of Change and motivational interviewing on decreasing discontinuation (or increasing persistency) of Avonex (interferon beta-1a--Biogen), a medication for treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Randomized controlled experimental design comparison of software-based telephone counseling (intervention group) and standard care (control group).
366 patients with MS.
Software-based telephone counseling.
Discontinuation of Avonex treatment and movement among stages of the Transtheoretical Model of Change.
Patients in the software intervention group demonstrated a statistically significantly lower proportion of Avonex treatment (1.2%) discontinuation than the standard care group (8.7%). In addition, stage movement away from discontinuation of Avonex (i.e., toward continuation of therapy) was significantly higher in the treatment group.
The Transtheoretical Model of Change constructs and motivational interviewing processes were effectively incorporated into a software-based intervention program, and this significantly decreased the proportion of patients who discontinued treatment of MS with Avonex. The integration of behavioral theory with information systems offers a promising approach for pharmacists and other providers to promote medication persistency.
Type I interferons (IFN-alpha and IFN-beta) were discovered more than five decades ago and are widely used for the treatment of human autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Despite their highly beneficial features, the precise mechanism of action remains speculative. Given the frequent side effects of IFN-alpha/beta therapy, understanding its action in an in vivo setting is vital to further improve this therapeutic approach. Major advances in our understanding of the IFN biology have recently been made and are particularly based on the combination of powerful genome-wide expression analysis in humans with gene-targeting techniques available for basic research. The recent discovery of a novel T-cell subset, Th17 cells, sheds new light on type I IFNs in MS.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative disease associated with marked impairments in health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Although standard clinical end points such as the Expanded Disability Status Scale and annualized relapse rate remain useful in assessing MS activity and severity, these measures do not fully reflect the patient's experience of the disease. The impact of MS on employment status, social and family relationships, sexual satisfaction, pain, fatigue, enjoyment of life, vision, bladder/bowel control, cognition, and emotional well-being can be profound and may influence the patient's adherence to long-term treatment. Generic HRQoL instruments such as the Medical Outcome Survey Short Form-36 and the Functional Status Questionnaire initially were used in MS studies. However, MS-specific and hybrid instruments that possess greater sensitivity now have been developed.
The effects of interferon-beta on HRQoL have been evaluated in several studies, and improvements on some dimensions of HRQoL, particularly in patients with mild disability, have been reported. Two large pivotal studies of natalizumab prospectively included HRQoL assessments as tertiary efficacy end points. The impact of natalizumab on HRQoL outcomes in patients with relapsing-remitting MS was evident at 2 years regardless of sustained disease progression or relapse status.
Patient-centered outcomes are becoming increasingly important in evaluations of MS therapies. Therefore, inclusion of HRQoL assessments in pivotal clinical studies eventually should become standard practice. Increasing our understanding of minimally important clinical change in these measures will be an important step in helping researchers and clinicians interpret these results beyond statistical significance.
Available immunomodulatory and conventional steroid treatment regimens provide a limited symptomatic benefit for patients with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). We performed an open trial on the short-term efficacy of repeated intrathecal application of the sustained release steroid triamcinolone acetonide (TCA) in 27 progressive MS patients. Six TCA administrations, performed every third day, reduced the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score [initial: 5.4+/-1.3, 3-7.5 (mean+/-SD, range); end: 4.9+/-1.1; 2.5-6.5; P<0.001] and significantly increased the walking distance and speed in particular after the fourth TCA injection. Concomitantly serially determined cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers of cell injury, neuron-specific enolase, total tau-protein, S-100, and beta-amyloid did not significantly change within the interval of TCA treatment. No serious side effects appeared. We conclude that repeat intrathecal injection of 40 mg TCA provides a substantial benefit in progressive MS patients with predominant spinal symptoms and does not alter CSF markers of neuronal cell injury.
Recent studies and commentaries link vitamin D with several autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS). Adequate vitamin D intake reduces inflammatory cytokines through control of gene expression, thus inadequate vitamin D intake is suggested as a mechanism that could contribute to inflammation and, consequently, development of MS. Poor vitamin D status has been associated with increased risk for development of MS, and patients with MS may suffer consequences of vitamin D deficiency, such as bone loss. Animal studies and very limited human data suggest possible benefit from vitamin D supplementation in patients with MS. Based on the current state of research, a key principle for practicing dietetics professionals is to include vitamin D status in nutritional assessment. For those at risk for poor vitamin D status, intake can be enhanced by food-based advice and, when indicated, vitamin D supplementation.