The MS Alphabet, Part 2 of the Letter ‘G’: Gilenya, Genetic, Glial Cells, and More
(Editor’s note: Tamara Sellman continues her occasional series on the MS alphabet with the second of two columns about terms starting with the letter “G.” Read more “G” terms here.)
Mastering an understanding of multiple sclerosis means you need to mind your Ps and Qs, dot your Is, cross your Ts, and recite your ABCs. There is so much to know about this complex disease. But the more you know as a patient or caregiver, the more informed you will be in making critical healthcare decisions.
This week, I offer several more terms starting with the letter “G” that you might want to master.
Symptoms of MS
This condition of the gastrointestinal tract describes problems with the stomach being unable to empty itself at a normal pace due to muscular dysfunction.
For people with MS, this usually is due to nerve damage, namely the vagus nerve, which regulates digestion. This explains why people with MS often feel hungry and full at the same time, and why they have digestive problems like constipation.
GM-CSF (granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor)
Researchers study GM-CSF to develop more therapies that can impede its damaging presence in the central nervous system.
This is a cytokine (derived from a subgroup of T-cells, part of the immune system that promotes nerve damage) that is responsible for triggering brain inflammation.
Research shows that increases in production of GM-CSF in the brain leads to activation of the disease course known as demyelination. It also shows that people who cannot generate GM-CSF do not develop multiple sclerosis.
Common MS terms
Genetics refers to all living processes related to genes, the building blocks of all life forms. But the term is more complicated than this. Genetics do not refer only to the inheritance of certain genes. Other genetic components include such ideas as propensity.
Is there a genetic component to multiple sclerosis? A genetic expression of multiple sclerosis, as studied in the recent wave of neuroscience focused on genetics, still has to determine this. However, it’s unclear whether “family history” of MS is a genetic guarantee it will recur in the offspring of people who have MS.
Use of the GHR (Genetics Home Reference) by patients can help them better understand the language of genetics and how it applies to multiple sclerosis.
The biology of MS
Glial cells are a brain’s best friend! They maintain and support the central nervous system (CNS). There are more glial cells than neurons (up to 10 times as many). Glial cells that you might already know something about include oligodendrocytes and astrocytes.
Glial cells can perform some remyelination of damaged nerve cells and also help lay down scar tissue to promote healing of active lesions. They also supply important chemicals to our brain cells, as well as clean out dead cells and debris from the CNS.
Scientists used to believe it was the activity of glial cells that helped strengthen the blood brain barrier (BBB). However, recent research shows that this task is more likely a role assumed by the endothelial cells.
This immunosuppressive therapy is an oral treatment used to prevent or delay multiple sclerosis disease progression. See fingolimod.
Stay tuned for more columns about the MS alphabet.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.