All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for January 2003

Are astrocytes central players in the pathophysiology of multiple sclerosis?

Arch Neurol 2003 Jan;60(1):132-6
De Keyser J, Zeinstra E, Frohman E.
Department of Neurology, Academisch Ziekenhuis Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9713 GZ Groningen, the Netherlands.

An interaction between antimyelin T cells and antigen-presenting glial cells is a crucial step in the cascade of immune events that lead to the inflammatory lesions in multiple sclerosis (MS).

One of the most debated and controversial issues is whether microglial cells or astrocytes are the key players in initiating the (auto)immune reactions in the central nervous system in MS.

Many investigators consider microglia to be the responsible intrinsic immunoeffector cells.

In this review, we speculate that in MS astrocytes may serve as primary (facultative) antigen-presenting cells due to a failure of noradrenergic suppression of class II major histocompatibility complex molecules, which is caused by a loss of beta(2)-adrenergic receptors.

If this hypothesis is correct, pharmacologic suppression of the antigen-presenting capacities of astrocytes may be a potential therapy for MS.