Transgenic Mice Models Used in MS Relapse Study
Having the flu (influenza virus) could be linked to the relapse of MS. Multiple Sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. In a recent study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, researchers used transgenic mice models of MS to investigate how the flu affects human MS patients. They exposed the mice to the influenza virus and observed how it affected their brains, specifically interested in inflammatory demyelination.
Chemokine Elevated in the Brains of Infected Transgenic Mice Models
Being that the researches were already well aware of the increased risk of relapse for MS patients with upper respiratory infections, the cause was unknown. From the mice that were exposed to the influenza virus, about a third of them showed signs of relapse, although it did not seem to be present in their brains. Additionally they did determine that there was an increase in the glial activation in the brains of these mice.
The author of the study, Andrew Steelman, told MD Magazine “not all of the transgenic mice inoculated with influenza developed disease.” “This was surprising since the overwhelming majority of T cells in this strain are autoreactive. We were also surprised to find trafficking of immune cells (monocytes, neutrophils and T cells) to the brain during peripheral infection in wild-type mice.”
The researchers then theorized that glial may be interacting with immune cells, redirecting them to the brain via molecules called chemokines. Researchers determined that the chemokine CXCL5 was elevated in the brains of the transgenic mice models that were infected, which is also elevated in the cerebrospinal fluid of human MS patients when they relapse. It has been suggested that monitoring this chemokine could help to predict a relapse.