ST. LOUIS, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. medical scientists say they have determined the response to immune proteins determines the pathology of multiple sclerosis.
That finding by researchers at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine in Baltimore and Washington University in St. Louis might help explain why different parts of the brain can come under attack in multiple sclerosis patients.
The scientists say a new study in mice with an MS-like disease showed the brain's response to a protein produced by invading T cells dictates whether the patient's spinal cord or cerebellum becomes affected.
According to the study led by Washington University scientist John Russell, the brain's response to one particular immune protein -- interferon-g, or IFNg -- determines which part of the brain the T cells attack. In mice lacking the IFNg receptor, the animals suffer cerebellum and brain stem inflammation, but their spinal cords are spared. When IFNg receptors were left intact, the reverse occurs.
The scientists don't yet know how the brain's response to IFNg directs the T cell attack, but they suspect IFNg triggers a localized production of T cell-attracting proteins in the spinal cord.
The study is detailed in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.