Japanese Researchers Uncover How Myelin is Made

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Myelin, the fatty material that coats and insulates nerve cells, is the substance that is damaged as multiple sclerosis progresses. This damage leads to the neurological problems seen with MS, but the process of myelination has never been fully understood. Now, researchers in Japan have discovered how myelin is formed, called myelination, which may lead to better treatments for MS and, possibly, to a cure.

The researchers were led by Jin Nakahara, a medical student at Keio University. He and his coworkers reported that immunological chemicals appear to play a crucial role in myelination in the human brain. The team found that the common gamma chain of immunoglobulin Fc receptors is expressed in oligodendrocyte precursor cells, which are cells that give rise to oligodendrocytes, which in turn are cells that produce myelin. The expression of the Fc receptors appears to trigger the formation of myelin in the human brain.

Most MS researchers believe that a trigger for myelination would be a substance within the brain. The finding that immunological molecules plays a crucial role in myelination is surprising. The finding may help lead to better treatments for demyelinating diseases such as MS and also may help clarify the relationship between immune processes and the brain. The research was reported in the journal Cell Development.

Source: NewsEdge, June 4, 2003
Submitted  8/27/2003 8:06:39 PM