Lymphatic vessels that clean the brain of harmful material also play a crucial role in the development and progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), new research from the University of Virginia suggests.
The research suggests lymphatic vessels which carry lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, also carry previously unknown messages from the brain to the immune system that ultimately trigger MS disease symptoms. Blocking these messages may offer doctors a new way to treat MS.
“Our data suggests that there is a signal coming from the brain to the lymph nodes that tells immune cells to get back into the brain, causing the [multiple sclerosis] pathology,” said researcher Antoine Louveau, PhD, of the university’s Department of Neuroscience.
The researchers were able to slow down the development of MS in a mouse model of the illness by targeting lymphatic vessels surrounding the brain either by blocking or destroying them. Although removal of the vessels did not stop MS entirely the fact that mouse MS was slowed down offers important insights into the function and role of the lymphatic vessels that connect the brain to the immune system.
The researchers admit it’s unlikely that stopping MS could be as simple as blocking the flow inside lymphatic vessels, but they say the emerging importance of the vessels offers doctors an exciting new avenue for tackling neurological diseases.
The researchers have published their research in a paper titled “CNS lymphatic drainage and neuroinflammation are regulated by meningeal lymphatic vasculature,” in the journal Nature Neuroscience. A deal has been signed with biopharmaceutical company PureTech Health to explore the potential clinical applications of the research.
Source: MS-UK 01/11/2018