Neurobiol Dis. 2004 Mar;15(2):331-9
De Keyser J, Zeinstra E, Wilczak N.
Department of Neurology, University Hospital Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
Despite intensive research, the cause and a cure of multiple sclerosis (MS) have remained elusive and many aspects of the pathogenesis are not understood.
Immunohistochemical experiments have shown that astrocytic beta(2)-adrenergic receptors are lost in MS.
Because norepinephrine mediates important supportive and protective actions of astrocytes via activation of these beta(2)-adrenergic receptors, we postulate that this abnormality may play a prominent role in the pathogenesis of MS.
First, it may allow astrocytes to act as facultative antigen-presenting cells, thereby initiating T-cell mediated inflammatory responses that lead to the characteristic demyelinated lesions.
Second, it may contribute to inflammatory injury by stimulating the production of nitric oxide and proinflammatory cytokines, and reducing glutamate uptake.
Third, it may lead to apoptosis of oligodendrocytes by reducing the astrocytic production of trophic factors, including neuregulin, nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor.
Fourth, it may impair astrocytic glycogenolysis, which supplies energy to axons, and this may represent a mechanism underlying axonal degeneration that is hold responsible for the progressive chronic disability.