Nav: Home

Loss of spinal nerve fibers not the only cause of disability in multiple sclerosis

May 10, 2017

It is commonly thought that in MS, the loss of axons (nerve fibres) contributes to the chronic disability found in many patients. This has led to the wide use of MRI to measure the cross sectional area of the spinal cord in order to predict disability.

But researchers from Queen Mary University of London have now sampled spinal cords of thirteen people with MS and five healthy controls, and found that spinal cord cross sectional area is not a good predictor of axonal loss.

Lead researcher Klaus Schmierer said: "The lack of association between axonal loss and spinal cord cross sectional area significantly changes our understanding of chronic disability in MS.

"The nature of the spinal cord as a highly organised and largely autonomous network needs to be appreciated. We need to identify other factors which - over and above axonal loss - determine the collapse of the spinal cord network and lead to the functional deficits seen in MS.

"In spinal cord trauma, people with less than 10% of their spinal cord axons may still be able to have useful lower limb movement, but in MS, patients with as much as 40% of their axons retained, as shown in our study, are almost invariably wheelchair bound. So there is clearly something happening here which we've yet to understand."

The researchers say that finding other factors that cause the chronic disability seen in MS could help identify targets for new treatments.

The team's preliminary results indicate that the loss of synaptic connections in the MS spinal cord is substantial, and that this could be the missing link that is driving disability.
-end-
Research paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bpa.12516/abstract

Queen Mary University of London

Related Spinal Cord Articles:

Neurological signals from the spinal cord surprise scientists
With a study of the network between nerve and muscle cells in turtles, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have gained new insight into the way in which movements are generated and maintained.
An 'EpiPen' for spinal cord injuries
An injection of nanoparticles can prevent the body's immune system from overreacting to trauma, potentially preventing some spinal cord injuries from resulting in paralysis.
From spinal cord injury to recovery
Spinal cord injury disconnects communication between the brain and the spinal cord, disrupting control over part of the body.
Transplanting adult spinal cord tissues: A new strategy of repair spinal cord injury
Spinal cord injury repair is one of the most challenging medical problems, and no effective therapeutic methods has been developed.
Gene medication to help treat spinal cord injuries
The two-gene medication has been proven to recover motor functions in rats.
Spinal cord is 'smarter' than previously thought
New research from Western University has shown that the spinal cord is able to process and control complex functions, like the positioning of your hand in external space.
The lamprey regenerates its spinal cord not just once -- but twice
Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) scientists report that lampreys can regenerate the spinal cord and recover function after the spinal cord has been severed not just once, but twice in the same location.
Timing could mean everything after spinal cord injury
Moderate damage to the thoracic spinal cord causes widespread disruption to the timing of the body's daily activities, according to a study of male and female rats published in eNeuro.
New approach could jumpstart breathing after spinal cord injury
A research team at the Krembil Research Institute in Toronto has developed an innovative strategy that could help to restore breathing following traumatic spinal cord injury.
Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde: Study reveals healing mesenchymal cells morph and destroy muscles in models of spinal cord injury, ALS and spinal muscular atrophy
Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP), in collaboration with the Fondazione Santa Lucia IRCCS in Rome, have discovered a new disease-specific role in FAP cells in the development of muscle tissue wasting, indicating a potential new avenue for treating motor neuron diseases including spinal cord injury, ALS and spinal muscular atrophy.
More Spinal Cord News and Spinal Cord Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.