Two newly identified variants of the known pharmaceutical agent chloroindazole showed significant anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis, a new study shows.
The study, “Analogues of ERβ ligand chloroindazole exert immunomodulatory and remyelinating effects in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis,” was published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, and was led by researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), School of Medicine.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system with no known cause or cure. Patients with MS characteristically show loss of the myelin sheath, a protective coat in nerve cells that helps increase cell-to-cell signaling.
Several studies have suggested that estrogens — a type of hormone — are beneficial to the functioning of the central nervous system, and help regulate the immune system. Thus, they are attractive candidates for the treatment of MS.
However, despite their potential to treat MS, estrogen-based therapies can have several undesirable side effects, such as feminizing male recipients and increasing the risk of developing breast and endometrial cancers in females.
Interestingly, estrogens work by binding and activating two different types of receptors: the estrogen receptor (ER)α and ERβ. The cancer-inducing effects of estrogens are mediated mainly through estrogen receptor ERα. Hence, therapies that specifically target ERβ can bypass these deleterious effects.
Chloroindazole (IndCl), a pharmaceutical agent, has up to 100-fold relative binding affinity for ERβ over ERα. IndCl has been shown previously to have beneficial effects on modulating the immune system and the central nervous system, and inducing myelination of nerve cells in mouse models of MS.
Furthermore, IndCl and other ERβ-activating agents directly support the growth, differentiation (maturation), and overall myelination activity of oligodendrocytes, which are the nerve cells that produce the myelin sheath.
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