The levels of a protein called Neuregulin-1 beta 1 (Nrg-1beta1) decline with the onset and progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), a new study suggests.
The findings support the potential of Nrg-1beta1 as a predictor of MS risk and progression and suggest that restoring its levels may help halt disease progression.
The study, “Neuregulin-1 beta 1 is implicated in pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis,” was published in the journal Brain.
MS is characterized by the loss of myelin — the protective coat surrounding nerve fibers — due to a mistargeted immune reaction. The mechanisms underlying the onset of MS, however, are still poorly understood.
Now, a team led by researchers at the University of Manitoba, Canada, discovered that the levels of a particular protein, called Nrg-1beta1, decline with MS onset and progression.
Using the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse model, a well-established model for human MS, the researchers found that the levels of Nrg-1beta1 declined within spinal cord lesions as well as in the blood and spleen before the animals showed symptoms (pre-symptomatic stage). That decline continued as the disease progressed.
“We have shown that a decline in the plasma levels of Neuregulin-1 beta 1 is positively associated with MS development and progression, and could be potentially used as an early disease marker to help in MS diagnosis,” Soheila Karimi, PhD, senior scientist at the regenerative medicine program in the Max Rady College of Medicine and the study’s senior author, said in a press release.
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