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Environmental Toxin "Acrolein" May Help Cause Multiple Sclerosis

Posted Nov 26 2010 1:17pm
Researchers from have discovered that an may aid in the cause of multiple sclerosis.

The study's lead researcher is Riyi Shi, a medical doctor and professor of neuroscience and biomedical engineering in Purdue University's Department of Basic Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Center for Paralysis Research and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Shi and his team of researchers have found that a certain environmental toxin could be held partially responsible for causing multiple sclerosis (MS).

The toxin, acrolein, is found in air pollutants like auto exhaust and tobacco smoke . It is also created inside the body when nerve cells are damaged.

Nerve cells are insulated with myelin, and when a person has MS, the myelin is dismantled and the nerve fibers are damaged. Researchers believe acrolein is responsible for the dismantling of the myelin as well as inducing the creation of free radicals, which are compounds that cause further injury to tissues that are already damaged due to trauma or disease.

"Only recently have researchers started to understand the details about what acrolein does to the human body," said Shi. "We are studying its effects on the central nervous system, both in trauma and degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis."

To see if the researchers were correct about acrolein's effects, Shi and his team of researchers used a disease much like MS to elevate the acrolein in the spinal cord tissues of mice by nearly 60 percent.

To neutralize acrolein and temporarily halt the onset of MS, Shi used the drug hydralazine, which is an FDA-approved medication normally used to treat hypertension. Previous studies conducted by Shi and his team have shown that hydralazine prevents acrolein from causing neuronal death .

For this particular study, researchers concluded that a connection existed between acrolein and MS because the elevated acrolein levels within the mice were reduced by 50 percent when given hydralazine. According to Shi, this study is the first concrete laboratory evidence showing a link between acrolein and MS.

"The treatment did not cause any serious side effects in the mice," said Shi. "The dosage we used for hydralazine in animals is several times lower than the standard dosing for oral hydralazine in human pediatric patients. Therefore, considering the effectiveness of hydralazine at binding acrolein at such low concentrations, we expect that our study will lead to the development of new neuroprotective therapies for MS that could be rapidly translated into the clinic."

In addition, the researchers have also discovered the specific chemical signature of hydralazine, which could lead to synthetic alternatives with less side effects.

The abstract can be found . This will help hold people over until they can get the constricted veins in their necks unblocked, which is the actual cause of MS.

My mother had MS ( M isdiagnosed S ymptoms) for 40 years. Thanks to the research work of Dr. Zamboni, she recently had an MRV scan (MRI with dyes in blood to show off the blood vessels). The MRV revealed a severely constricted jugular vein in the left side of her neck, a condition now known as CCSVI (Chronic CerebroSpinal Venous Insufficiency). Her jugular was expanded with balloon angioplasty, a simple, safe and common modern medical procedure. She no longer has MS. This treatment has definitely cured her .

However, she seems to have suffered some minor neural damage after 40 years of constricted blood drainage from her brain. Luckily, her case was mild, so she did not suffer too badly. While all of her major symptoms have been cured (things that seem to have been current/immediate active effects of the CCSVI), she has been left with a minor deficiency in coordinating her walking, along with simple muscle weakness from many years of seriously reduced mobility. She is exercising, muscles can be easily built, and we hope she will eventually fully regain her coordination and full normal stamina.

But such good luck is not the case for many who suffer more rapid onset and progression of MS. Many who develop MS die within years.

While I hope that most people with MS will be able to benefit from surgical treatment for CCSVI, we still don't know if CCSVI is the cause of all MS (it seems to account for over 90% so far). And even if (by luck) CCSVI causes all MS, people will still surely benefit from a chemical shield while they await surgical treatment.

A very uninformed speculative side note: it's interesting that if CCSVI causes neuron damage, which it apparently (obviously) does, then it might account for the production of acrolein more within the body, rather than it being an environmental toxin (can it even cross the blood brain barrier in common environmental exposure scenarios?). This would implicate acrolein as perhaps a key mechanism in MS taking place, but not the primary cause of MS.

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