December 1, 2003
Boston Cure Project
Scientists have found that a decline in the functional activity of natural killer (NK) T cells can precede some MS relapses. Studying nine MS subjects and controls matched for age, sex, and NK responder status, they found that NK activity tended to cycle up and down slightly over time in both MS subjects and controls. However, in five of the MS subjects there was a period where NK activity dipped down more sharply and stayed low for an extended period of several weeks. In four of these subjects, these dips or valleys preceded a clinical relapse.
The study authors could not draw any firm conclusions from these findings about the role of NK cells in MS activity. Also, they noted that the study had some limitations such as small size and lack of MRI analysis. Still, I find this type of study important because it helps answers one of the fundamental questions, "What causes relapses in MS?" So hopefully this line of study will be pursued further.
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