Although the cause of the disease is still unknown, previous studies have suggested that changes in the structure of myelin sheaths can contribute to the development of MS. Other research has also suggested that environmental factors may play a role in onset of the disease.
In the latest study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers measured myelin sheaths in healthy and diseased animal models of MS. They noticed changes in salinity and temperature caused the myelin sheaths to change from a healthy to a diseased condition. This change happened at the molecular level, which created structural instabilities allowing the immune system to attack neurons, according to the researchers.
“Current therapeutic approaches have focused on the autoimmune response without identifying the culprit,” lead study author Roy Beck, professor at Tel Aviv University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said in a press release. “We have found that under certain environmental conditions, such as elevated salinity and temperature, myelin sheaths protecting neurons undergo structural transition consistent with pathological myelin structures in multiple sclerosis.”
Source: MS-UK 25/10/2018