What if we used cold to fight multiple sclerosis?

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  • Further research will be needed before this finding can be considered for clinical application.
  • Placed in a cooler environment, mice with multiple sclerosis had fewer symptoms.

According to the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), 110,000 people in France are affected by multiple sclerosis., which makes it the leading cause of severe non-traumatic disability in young adults. Currently, there is no cure to cure this disease, but only to provide relief to the patients and improve their quality of life. According to a new study published in the journal cell metabolismColds may be a new treatment option for reducing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis: The immune system attacks its own cells

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system and results in immune system dysfunction. It no longer protects the patient from external attacks and even turns against its own cells, which attack the myelin that surrounds and protects nerve fibers. This phenomenon causes damage that prevents nerve fibers from properly transmitting messages sent by the brain to the rest of the body, and vice versa. The patients of this disease may suffer from various problems like motor, sensory, cognitive etc. Over a more or less long period, these disorders can progress into an irreversible obstruction.

Work done on rats kept in 10 degree environment

To carry out their work, scientists began with the “life history theory” invented in the 1950s. It holds that the organism concentrates on growth and reproduction only when the environment is favorable to it. Otherwise, it abandons its primary functions as all of its energy resources are reserved for defense against external attacks.

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In multiple sclerosis, the immune system is flawed. So the researchers conducted experiments on mice to see whether exposure to cold – an unfavorable environment – ​​caused their bodies to divert their energy resources from the immune system to maintain body heat. In other words, if the immune system stops attacking its own cells to focus on maintaining its body temperature. To do this, they slowly placed mice suffering from the human multiple sclerosis model in a cold environment at 10 degrees.

Improvement of symptoms of illness due to cold

After a few days, we observed a significant improvement in the clinical severity of the disease, as well as the extent of remission in the central nervous system., explains Doron Merkler, one of the study’s authors. The animals had no difficulty maintaining their body temperature at a normal level, but, alone, the symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders decreased dramatically from the inability to walk on their hind legs to mild paralysis of the body.The results are therefore reassuring: upon exposure to low temperatures, the immune system no longer attacks the myelin that surrounds and protects nerve fibers, and therefore patients have fewer symptoms of disease. Indeed, since the organism It is obliged to increase its metabolism to retain its heat, so it does not have the resources for other functions, especially harmful in the context of multiple sclerosis. Therefore the cold causes a decrease in harmful immune cells and disease improves symptoms.

The authors note however that exposure to cold increases the likelihood of certain infections. They will continue their research, before considering the clinical application of this finding. The ultimate goal is for patients to benefit from the benefits of a cold without its harmful effects.

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About the Author: Abbott Hopkins

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