A type of antioxidant drug designed by scientists about 12 years ago has been found to be effective in significantly reducing symptoms of multiple sclerosis-like disease in mice. Researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University found that an antioxidant called MitoQ may be effective in treating MS. The said antioxidant has been found to be effective in fighting neurodegenerative diseases. But it is the first time that researchers have discovered its effectiveness in combating MS-like symptoms in mice.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease where the immune system begins to attack the myelin, the protective sheath that surrounds the nerve fibers of the central nervous system. This leads to damage to the nerve fibers and impaired nerve cell function that results in a variety of symptoms. Some of the symptoms include blurred vision, slurred speech, numbness as well as balance and cognitive problems.
The research team, headed by P. Hemachandra Reddy, Ph.D., an associate scientist in the Division of Neuroscience at OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center, induced mice to develop experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis or EAE, a mice version of MS. The researchers then divided the mice into four groups- a group with EAE only, a second group induced with EAE and treated with the MitoQ, a third group that was given the MitoQ first, then induced with EAE; and a fourth “control” group of mice without EAE and without any other treatment.
After the 14th day of treatment, the EAE mice treated with MitoQ showed reduced inflammatory markers and increased neuronal activity in the spinal cord, which is a region in the brain affected by MS. This indicates that the EAE symptoms are affected by the treatment. The mice also showed reduced loss of axons or nerve fibers. This resulted in reduced neurological disabilities associated with EAE. The mice that were pre-treated with MitoQ showed the least problems. The MitoQ treated mice after EAE also showed fewer problems than mice induced with EAE that was not treated with the antioxidant drug.
“The MitoQ also significantly reduced inflammation of the neurons and reduced demyelination,” Reddy further stated. “These results are really exciting. This could be a new front in the fight against MS.”
While the antioxidant drug shows promise as a potential MS treatment, there is still a long way to go in understanding just how the drug works in treating the said disease. Study findings were published in the December edition of Biochimica et Biophysica Acta Molecular Basis of Disease.
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