Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurodegenerative
disease that affects the Central Nervous System (CNS); MS is
considered an autoimmune disease that most often affects people between the
ages of 20 and 40. In MS, the immune system attacks myelin and oligodendrocytes,
the cells that make myelin; the cause(s) of MS is unknown. Neurodegenerative diseases
such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), multiple sclerosis (MS), or
Parkinson's disease (PD) are characterized by
progressive loss of neurons which, over time, leads to neurodegeneration and
Cell membranes consist of a bilayer primarily composed of various phospholipids, cholesterol, and integral (imbedded) proteins that function as cell-surface receptors, enzymes, and various transporters. The fatty acid (FA) composition of phospholipids determines biophysical (and functional) characteristics of membranes (e.g., membrane "fluidity"), and plays an important role in overall cellular integrity, and intra and intercellular communication (signaling). Furthermore, there is abundant literature evidence (see below) that essential fatty acids (EFAs), and especially polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)1 and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)2 (see Fig. 1), play fundamental role in development and proper functioning of the nervous system; consequently, the EFA composition of membrane phospholipids likely plays a direct role in a variety of cellular and multicellular processes, including inflammation and immunity, with implications for neurodegenerative diseases such as MS and PD. The links below provide recent literature overview of MS and related topics.
Figure 1. Chemical structure of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid with 22 carbons and six cis double bonds (22:6n-3).
For a review of the unique properties of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), see a review article: "Docosahexaenoic acid: membrane properties of a unique fatty acid" Chemistry and Physics of Lipids 126(2003) 1–27. Stillwell, W., and Wassall, S.R. Link to: PubMed
1Docosahexaenoic acid or
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid with six cis double bonds and 22
Besides PUFAs, other essential nutrients and vitamins are likely important in MS. A recent study3, together with other published literature indicates the beneficial effect of vitamin D on MS and other autoimmune diseases, as well as it's overall role in immunology, specifically it's effect on T cell-mediated immunity, emphasizes it's pivotal role in study of the etiology of MS and other autoimmune disorders.
Biosynthesis of the "active" form of vitamin D is a multi-step
process that requires (non-enzymatic) ultraviolet (UV) irradiation
and thermal reaction steps to yield vitamin D3, which then undergoes
further (enzymatic) reactions to yield an active form of vitamin
the recent research study results from the Department of Nutrition at the
Harvard School of Public Health
entitled: Vitamin D intake and incidence of multiple sclerosis.
Munger K.L., Zhang S.M., O'Reilly E, Hernan M.A., Olek M.J., Willett W.C., and
Ascherio A. Neurology. 2004 Jan 13;62(1):60-5.
MS References (2003) (826 References)
For convenience, below are references sorted by First Author Name from the above "MS References (2003)" list of references:
Please follow the various links below to access additional references; please note that the links below lead to published references selected by the keyword(s) associated with a given link; e.g., the "microglia reviews 2003" link below contains 48 references found using the search keywords "microglia" and selecting for "review" references published in 2003.
High Intake of Vitamin D Linked to Reduced Risk of
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Harvard Gazette: New multiple sclerosis drugs found
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