Developing a new model to study microglia and macrophage function in slowly expanding lesions of multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative disease in the brain and spinal cord of the central nervous system (CNS). Canada has amongst the highest rate of MS in the world and Canadians living with MS have lifelong disease that progressively worsens and reduces their quality of life. Although there are good treatments for relapse-remitting MS, the early form of the disease where inflammation and myelin loss in the CNS causes episodic attacks, there are no effective treatments for progressive MS where the disease becomes irreversible and debilitating over time. Chronic tissue damage in the CNS is a major feature of progressive MS.
However, the key drivers of chronic neuron and axon death in progressive MS remain unknown and this lack of knowledge impedes our ability to develop treatments against MS progression. With help from Brain Canada, we will establish a research program to address this important unmet area of research. Specifically in this study, we will establish a new animal model for progressive MS and determine how the CNS responds to and recovers from chronic damage caused by harmful oxidized lipids founds in MS lesions. We will also compare the function of microglia, which are CNS resident immune cells, with peripheral blood derived macrophages in the context of chronic oxidized lipid damage. Understanding whether microglia and peripheral macrophages have different functions in progressive MS will provide important guidance to treatment strategies since they are the predominant immune cells that respond to oxidized lipid damage in the CNS. In the long-term, studying the biology behind these processes will help us develop new treatments to stop MS progression, which will provide a better quality of life for people living with MS and their caregivers in Canada and help to alleviate the socioeconomical burdens on our health care and our communities.
Yifei (Jeff) Dong , University of Saskatchewan
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