Though the exact cause of this condition is not known, there are certain risk factors that can trigger flareups.
Multiple sclerosis is a progressive autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the central nervous system and strips away the protective coating around neurons. It causes a wide range of neurological symptoms including paralysis, vision loss, and mobility issues. It is a progressive condition that is debilitating and can seriously hamper the quality of life of a patient. There is no cure for the condition till date and treatment is based mostly on symptoms. But timely treatment can help patients deal with symptoms and also delay the progression of disease. Also Read – Beware! You may develop this autoimmune disorder post COVID-19 infection Experts have doubts about what exactly causes this autoimmune condition, but they do agree that there are certain risk factors that can trigger symptoms. Now a new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the US says that childhood trauma could affect the trajectory of multiple sclerosis development and response to treatment in adulthood. This study is published in the journal Nature Communications. Also Read – Lack of fatty acid in tissues can trigger multiple sclerosis. Here's how
Childhood stress may block benefits of treatment
In a study conducted on mice, the US researchers found that mice that had experienced stress when young were more likely to develop the autoimmune disorder and less likely to respond to a common treatment. According to them, mice that had experienced early-life trauma were more susceptible to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) disease development. They were also more likely to suffer prolonged motor paralysis with severe neuronal damage in the central nervous system, which is caused by a heightened immune response. Also Read – Low fitness levels can up your risk of developing psoriasis
Study subjects seen to be susceptible to EAE
The mice were genetically susceptible to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the model most widely used for studying MS. The researchers watched the development and progression of EAE in mice that had been briefly separated from their mother and given a saline injection while young and compared it with mice that had not experienced the same stress of separation from their mother.
Stress hormone norepinephrine triggers EAE
The researchers traced the EAE triggers to the immune system — in particular, a receptor on immune cells that binds to the stress hormone norepinephrine. Childhood stress in the mice triggered a prolonged release of norepinephrine and the receptor was activated for long periods of time, which led the cells to decrease its expression. This weakened the immune system and made it less able to respond to the stress and inflammation of EAE. Importantly, mice that developed EAE after stress in their childhoods did not respond to treatment with interferon beta, one of the initial therapies most widely prescribed to individuals with multiple sclerosis.
A few risk factors of multiple sclerosis
Though the exact cause of this condition is not known, there are certain risk factors that can trigger flareups. It is commonly seen in people between the ages of 20 and 40 years and women are more susceptible to it than men. It may also be genetic, but experts believe that an environmental trigger is necessary for the disease to develop. Sometimes, exposure to viruses may also increase a person’s risk of developing this condition as can vitamins D and B12 deficiencies. (With inputs from IANS)