Simple sugar possible therapy for repairing myelin in multiple sclerosis

October 07, 2020

Irvine, CA - Oct. 7, 2020 - N-acetylglucosamine, a simple sugar found in human breast milk and sold as an over-the-counter dietary supplement in the United States, promotes myelin repair in mouse models and correlates with myelination levels in multiple sclerosis patients according to a new University of California, Irvine-led study.

Published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the study also demonstrates that in mice, delivering N-acetylglucosamine orally to lactating mothers drove primary myelination in their nursing offspring. N-acetylglucosamine is a simple sugar that is metabolically attached to proteins at the cell surface to control cellular function.

"We found that N-acetylglucosamine activates myelin stem cells to promote primary myelination and myelin repair," said Michael Demetriou, MD, PhD, FRCP(C), professor of neurology, microbiology and molecular genetics at UCI School of Medicine and leader of the study. "Our data raises the intriguing possibility that N-acetylglucosamine may be a simple therapy to promote myelin repair in multiple sclerosis patients". Formal human studies will be required to test this theory.

The failure of robust re-myelination following inflammatory demyelination in multiple sclerosis leads to chronic disability and neurodegeneration. Myelin insulates the long, cable-like nerve cell branches called axons, and serves to increase the speed of electrical signal conduction between neurons. Myelination in the central nervous system also plays an important role in cognitive development during childhood.

"Interestingly, since N-acetylglucosamine is a major component of human breast milk but not baby formula, it may explain some of the cognitive function and myelination benefits realized by children fed breast milk as opposed to formula." said Michael Sy, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at UCI School of Medicine, co-director of the regional MS program at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System, and first author of the study.

Dr. med. Alexander Brandt, MD, who led the clinical parts of the study together with Dr. med. Friedemann Paul, MD, added, "The association of reduced N-acetylglucosamine serum levels with white matter changes in the brain of patients with multiple sclerosis suggests that N-acetyglucosamine deficiency may contribute to disease severity."
-end-
At the time of the study, Brandt has been the head of the Translational Neuroimaging laboratory in the Clinical Neuroimmunology group at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, which is led by Paul. Brandt has since transitioned to the UCI School of Medicine as associate professor of neurology.

Formal clinical trials are required to test the applications identified in this study and are currently being pursued by the investigators.

This study was funded in part by a Marilyn Hilton Innovator Award, the National Institutes of Health and the German Research Foundation Excellence Initiative, NeuroCure.

About the UCI School of Medicine

Each year, the UCI School of Medicine educates more than 400 medical students, and nearly 150 doctoral and master's students. More than2 700 residents and fellows are trained at UCI Medical Center and affiliated institutions. The School of Medicine offers an MD; a dual MD/PhD medical scientist training program; and PhDs and master's degrees in anatomy and neurobiology, biomedical sciences, genetic counseling, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, pathology, pharmacology, physiology and biophysics, and translational sciences. Medical students also may pursue an MD/MBA, an MD/master's in public health, or an MD/master's degree through one of three mission-based programs: the Health Education to Advance Leaders in Integrative Medicine (HEAL-IM), the Leadership Education to Advance Diversity-African, Black and Caribbean (LEAD-ABC), and the Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC). The UCI School of Medicine is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Accreditation and ranks among the top 50 nationwide for research. For more information, visit som.uci.edu.

University of California - Irvine

Related Cognitive Function Articles from Brightsurf:

Anxious, moody older adults are vulnerable to worse cognitive function
Some older adults with the neuropathology that causes dementia have more cognitive resilience than others, reports a new study.

New hyperbaric oxygen therapy protocol can improve cognitive function of older adults
The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at Shamir Medical Center, together with the Sackler School of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, announced today that a peer-reviewed study has demonstrated for the first time that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can significantly enhance the cognitive performance of healthy older adults.

Examining association between low to moderate drinking, cognitive function in adults
The association between low to moderate alcohol drinking and the rate of age-related decline in cognitive function from middle to older age was investigated in a nationally representative sample of US adults.

Childhood exposure to parental smoking linked to poorer cognitive function in midlife
A Finnish study coordinated by the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku, Finland, shows that exposure to parental smoking in childhood and adolescence is associated with poorer learning ability and memory in midlife.

Diet may help preserve cognitive function
According to a recent analysis of data from two major eye disease studies, adherence to the Mediterranean diet - high in vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil -- correlates with higher cognitive function.

Better controlled diabetes is associated with preserved cognitive function after stroke
Better glucose control can help people with diabetes who have a common type of stroke to preserve their cognitive function, according to a study accepted for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting.

Neighborhood features and one's genetic makeup interact to affect cognitive function
Few studies have examined how the neighborhood's physical environment relates to cognition in older adults.

Does abdominal fat affect the cognitive function of older adults with diabetes?
Higher levels of abdominal fat were linked with reduced cognitive function in a Clinical Obesity study of older Asians with type 2 diabetes -- even in individuals with normal weight.

University of Miami study explores cognitive function in people with mental illness
A study funded by the Veterans Administration and directed by researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has shown few differences in the profiles of genes that influence cognition between people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and the general population.

Hydration may affect cognitive function in some older adults
Among women, lower hydration levels were associated with lower scores on a task designed to measure motor speed, sustained attention, and working memory.

Read More: Cognitive Function News and Cognitive Function Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.