Secondary reformist multiple sclerosis (MS) is a relentless disease. Over time, sufferers experience worsening physical, psychological and temper-related symptoms. And yet, at the same time as their symptoms progress, the brain white matter lesions discovered on an affected person’s MRI scans often remain unchanged. Suspecting that modifications in the grey matter regions of the brain could also be playing a vital role in the disease’s progression, investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted preliminary research assessing the variations in the activity of microglial cells in the grey matter regions of healthy volunteers versus those with MS.
Presently, there are several disease-modifying medicines available on the market to assist sufferers with relapsing-remitting MS experience fewer and fewer severe relapses, however, few medicines exist for sufferers with secondary progressive MS. Investigations to develop new medicine are underway, however many questions stay concerning the underlying biology of the illness and the way it progresses.
The new research leverages the novel radioisotope, [F-18] PBR06, a tracer that targets a specific protein (TSPO) present in activated microglia, key immune cells discovered in the brain. Many other analysis tasks use C-11, an isotope with a much shorter half-life. However, unlike C-11, the F-18 tracer has a significantly longer half-life and a higher potential for use in the clinic.
For the pilot research, investigators evaluated outcomes for 12 sufferers with MS—seven with relapsing-remitting MS and five with secondary progressive MS and compared it with healthy controls using the F-18 tracer. They discovered more grey matter microglial activation within the MS sufferers as in comparison with healthy controls, particularly within the hippocampus, Para hippocampus, cingulate gyrus and amygdala areas of the brain. These brain’s areas are known to influence crucial processes, together with emotion, memory, and cognition, all of which can be affected in MS patients.
The authors note that the pilot research is small and its findings would require further confirmation in larger research with a longitudinal design, but it surely gives the first assessment of [F-18] PBR06 PET for grey matter turns in MS, demonstrating the potential value of this technique.