Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder diagnosed in adults aged 20 through 40, although no age group is exempt. Characterized by damage and scarring (sclerosis means scarring) to the nerves of the brain, spinal cord, and eye, scientists are still grappling with the cause of this disorder which inflicts more 2.5 million people worldwide.
More than a century ago, it was noted that people with MS have accumulated iron deposits in their brain. Iron is a vital substance in our body, but undergoes reaction when exposed to oxygen. This is why inside our body it is always tightly bound in cage-like structures such as haem (found in red blood cells) and vitamin B12.
Deposits of free iron, such as those found in people suffering from MS, are a major source of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress, rather than iron, causes damage to the myelin sheath surrounding nerves, leading to MS symptoms.
Scientists in this study were on the look out for markers of oxidative stress, in an effort to find an alternative test to costly MRI scans and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sampling, which is currently the only way to determine the extent of iron deposits in people with MS.
While their study failed to deliver the results they were after, the authors remained unwavering in their belief that markers of oxidative stress represent a more feasible (and cheaper) way of measuring disease progression than currently used techniques.
In addition, it would also allow better monitoring of the effectiveness of new medicines. The search is on!
Aydin O, Ellidaq HY, Eren E, et al. Ischemia modified albumin is an indicator of oxidative stress in multiple sclerosis. Biochem Med (Zaqreb). 2014 Oct 15;24(3):383-9. Doi 10.11613/BM.2014.041
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