When Your Body Loses Myelin

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that is really common nowadays. Statistics says that nearly 400 thousand people suffer from this disease in the USA and about 2.5 million of people around the world. This is enough to say that this disease is widespread. And because of that we have to know more about multiple sclerosis.

Image Credit: neurogum.com

Usually, multiple sclerosis is diagnosed in the age of 15 – 40. Unfortunately, in most cases it is impossible to diagnose multiple sclerosis when it just starts to develop, because at first stage the symptoms are not constant and are of a general nature. Usually people get this diagnosis “multiple sclerosis” (or MS) when it has already developed and doctors can do nothing more, but to try to prolong the life of their patient.

Mechanism of multiple sclerosis

Impulses that comes from the brain and to the brain are transmitted with the help of a special nerve fiber. And most of these nerve fibers are covered with myelin. Myelin sheath covers axons, long processes of the neuron, which play the role of “wires” that transmit nervous impulses. The sheath itself serves for electrical insulation, and if it becomes destructed, the passage of the impulse along the nerve fiber slows down 5-10 times. When people suffer multiple sclerosis, the myelin in their body becomes replaced by connective tissue.

Symptoms of MS

Very often multiple sclerosis manifest itself in the form of the deterioration of visual acuity, vague vision, sensation of a veil in front of the eyes, as well as partial or total blindness. It is obvious that experiencing such impairments, people at first go to an ophthalmologist.

In addition, the first signs of the disease can include all sorts of unpleasant sensations in the face or limbs in the form of numbness or tingling. Also there can be the impairments of deep sensitivity including joint, muscular and vibrational impairments. However, patients rarely pay attention to such symptoms and do not go to a specialist. Another problem is that these symptoms are not constant and may disappear after while.

In most cases people suffer from impairment of both the brain and the spinal cord. Moreover, it can also affect the lower motor neurons. When these lower motor neurons are affected, they cannot function properly and because of that people may experience muscle twitches (or fasciculations). But it should be mentioned that only people with advanced MS can experience fasciculations. More often people with MS may have such symptoms connected with the work of muscles as clonus and spasticity.

Clonus can be described as constant jerking of muscles. A common symptom of MS is spasticity. It can be characterized by involuntary muscle contraction. It happens because lower and upper motor neurons cannot communicate correctly.

Is it possible to restore myelin?

Researchers from the University of California have found out that myelin can be repaired. Researchers applied clemastine (a special histamine) together with the protein that causes multiple sclerosis in mice. The results showed that the mice had fewer symptoms of the disease because the myelin sheath of the spinal cord and brain was restored.

Still the scientists need more time to investigate the influence of clemastine on different receptors, especially on M1 receptor that is responsible for remyelination.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the functioning of neurons. This influence can manifest itself in the worsening of eyesight, as well as in the occurrence of fasciculations, clonus and spasticity. Good news is that the scientists found the way to repair myelin and make the life of people with MS better. But they need some more time to understand its functioning.

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