Alternative Therapies for Multiple Sclerosis ©

By David Steenblock, M.S., D.O.

This review is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for your physician's advice.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory, autoimmune, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that destroys myelin, oligodendrocytes, and axons (14). Between 250,000 - 350,000 people in the United States alone suffer from Multiple Sclerosis. The name relates to the multiple hardened (sclerotic) lesions and scars in the brain and spinal cord. Initial symptoms may include extreme fatigue, vertigo, optic neuritis, and numbness in the extremities. Most patients experience relapsing-remitting episodes that over time can lead to progressive neurological deterioration.


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Lucchinetti and associates analyzed MS tissues from human biopsies and autopsies and found four distinct patterns of lesions. In addition, all lesions from one patient were of one pattern. This may mean that four distinct mechanisms may be involved in MS. Pattern I showed autoimmune destruction mediated by T-cell and antibodies. Lesion edges were sharply demarcated and located in perivenous areas. Active demyelination was associated with inflammation but also present was remyelinaton and the preservation of oligodendrocytes. In the injured myelin sheaths, all myelin proteins were lost at the same rate.

Pattern II lesions were the same as Pattern I but with the addition of IGG deposition and activated complement.

Pattern III lesions were similar to viral or toxin-induced oligodendroycte dystrophy. Lesions were not around veins and lesion borders were diffuse and irregular. Lymphocytes and activated myeloid cells were detected but activated complements of IgG were not. The myelin sheaths showed a loss of Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein (MOG). Oligodendrocyte death from apoptosis was prominent.

Pattern IV lesions were similar to those of Pattern III, except oligodendrocyte death appeared necrotic.

In the 83 cases analyzed, pattern II lesions were most common and characteristic of relapsing, remitting disease. Pattern IV lesions were found in patients with primary progressive disease and pattern III lesions were seen as "starter" lesions capable of converting to another pattern. Brain regions unaffected by inflammation and neurons with intact myelin sheaths also showed axonal damage (13).

In the central nervous system, microglia are tissue macrophages which have the ability to regulate and be regulated by immune cells (lymphocytes, macrophages, B cells) and stromal cells (neurons and glia). Microglia are found throughout the central nervous system and participate in the onset and progression of CNS inflammatory responses. Microglia, when activated, are highly damaging to CNS function through their production of neurotoxins, immune cell chemoattractants (Inflammatory Protein-10, Macrophage Inflammatory Protein-1, Macrophage Inflammatory Protein-2, C-C Chemokine Ligand 19, Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein-1, Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein-2) and antigen-presenting cells. Microglia direct inflammatory responses, resulting in CNS-infiltrated macrophages/dendritic cells and anti-myelin T-cell responses. Microglia also limit inflammation by producing neuroprotectants and immunosuppressive factors. Whether activated microglia produce growth factors or neuotoxins such as nitric oxide and glutamate depends on the signals received from neurons, T cells, glia and macrophages (13). The destruction may be further enhanced by the presence of heavy metals, viruses and endotoxins, causing a downward cycle of local inflammation, demyelination and axonal damage, resulting in further inflammation, demyelination and axonal damage.

Current therapies for MS are designed to delay disease progression by immuno-modulation or immunosuppression. Until recently, the persisting neurological damage has remained mostly irreversible. An FDA approved regenerative treatment is urgently needed. Clinical trials now investigating the effects of stem cells on MS are showing immense promise.

Stem cells could prove to be "the Holy Grail in finding treatments for cancer, Parkinson's Disease, osteoporosis, spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer's disease, leukemia and multiple sclerosis." (Yvette Cooper, UK Public Health Minister) (6). Stem cells appear to be capable of remyelinating the central nervous system in patients with Multiple Sclerosis, while also helping to correct the autoimmune nature of the disease.

This information is presented for educational purposes only.

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