InsideMS, Winter 2002, Vol. 20, Issue 1
Researchers have reported that an immune-system protein known as “osteopontin” may play an important role in MS and its progression. The team, headed by Lawrence Steinman, MD (Stanford University) and Jorge Oksenberg, PhD (University of California at San Francisco), published its findings in the November 23, 2001 issue of Science.
Dr. Steinman and colleagues set out to determine what immune-system proteins might be involved in the development and progression of MS. Using a “microarray” (also known as “gene chip” technology), they examined tissue from people with MS, and explored the activity of these proteins in mice with EAE, an MS-like disease.
The team found that genes for a number of proteins, including osteopontin, appeared in MS-damaged areas of human brain tissue, and not in healthy brain tissue.
In mice, the osteopontin gene was present in areas of myelin damage, during both relapse and remission. In mice that were genetically engineered to lack the osteopontin gene, the progression of EAE was inhibited, and the severity of the disease significantly reduced.
The research suggests that osteopontin may be important in the development of MS, and in determining the progression of the disease. Osteopontin may present a target for therapies that block the progression of MS. The scientists are still exploring the exact roles of this protein and planning extended research.
For additional information
“Researchers Uncover Protein that May Play a Crucial Role in MS Attacks and Progression” (Research Bulletin)
© 2002 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society