MS Research Spotlight: Magnesium Deficiency, LDN, and More
MS Research Spotlight covers key research news from the past two weeks.
Anxiety & depression linked to cognitive problems in MS
JANUARY 29, 2019 || National Multiple Sclerosis Society
People with MS who experience anxiety are more likely to experience declines in working memory, verbal learning, and information processing speed, according to a study published in Neurology.1
The researchers sought to understand the links between depression and anxiety in people with MS. Their results suggest that “problems in thinking and remembering may, in part, be related to having anxiety and/or depression.”
The study authors concede that further research should focus on whether treating anxiety and depression in people with MS can reduce cognitive dysfunction.
Meanwhile, the National MS Society currently funds a study testing a potential online program for reducing depression in people with MS.
Study sheds light on brain cell changes in people with MS
JANUARY 23, 2019 || University of Edinburgh via Science Daily
New research on oligodendrocytes determined that people with MS have different types of these cells when compared to people with healthy brains.2
Scientists analyzed postmortem brain tissues samples using a technique known as single nuclear RNA-Seq in nine subjects. Five were healthy, while four had been diagnosed with progressive forms of MS.
The RNA-Seq analysis allows researchers to take "snapshots" of the genes that have "switched on" in individual brain cells.
After examining thousands of brain cells, they can construct a model of cell types found in the brains of individuals.
In this particular study, they discovered a variety of oligodendrocyte types that were present in different ratios in the MS subjects when compared to those with healthy brains.
The takeaway? It's possible that these cells function differently in cases of MS, which could hint at a better understanding of disease progression.
Study finds Naltrexone has no serious side effects
JANUARY 21, 2019 || Pain News Network
Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) recently underwent scrutiny to determine whether it contributes to liver toxicity. A British research team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis involving more than 11,000 patients using the anti-opioid dependence agent and determined that LDN did not produce serious side effects.3
LDN does not come without side effects, as some users experience dizziness and nausea, and it cannot be taken with opioid medications.
However, this report shares that, anecdotally, LDN (naltrexone delivered in doses of 5mg or less) is commonly used to successfully treat several autoimmune conditions, include MS. The generic medication is considered an inexpensive option for those seeking pain relief.
Why vitamin D is useless without this critical nutrient
JANUARY 19, 2019 || Care2
Supplemental Vitamin D is heralded as a necessary nutritional agent for people with MS. It is deemed to help improve muscle function, improve mood, support immune function, and reduce fatigue.
However, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that without adequate levels of magnesium in the bloodstream, vitamin D supplements may not be synthesized properly. Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is yet another mineral that’s been found to be deficient in many people.4
Previous research in BMC Medicine (2013) also suggests that “it is possible that magnesium intake alone or its interaction with vitamin D intake may contribute to vitamin D status.”
Effect of nonmyeloablative HSCT vs continued DMTs on progression in patients with RRMS
JANUARY 15, 2019 || Journal of the American Medical Association
Over 100 RRMS patients, who were treated with nonmyeloablative hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in the first randomized clinical trial of its kind, showed “marked improvement in disease after stem cell transplant,” according to new research from Northwestern University in Chicago.5
The transplant protocol included an immune system ablation using an intravenous application of cyclophosphamide and antithymocyte globulin, followed by the stem cell transplant.
“We do not destroy the bone marrow; we are just resetting the immune system,” said the Chicago study’s lead author, Dr. Richard K. Burt in an article in Medscape Medical News. “The treatment is directed to killing off the immune system for a short time, then we collect and reinfuse the stem cells — like a supportive blood product infusion."
Trial subjects were randomly assigned either HSCT or DMD therapy, then compared by their primary endpoint: the amount of increase in EDSS score of 1.0 or more points following at least one year on their protocols.
In the first year, EDSS scores improved in the HSCT group, while they worsened in the DMD group. Relapse rates followed a similar pattern, and HSCT was also associated with improved MRI lesion load.5
Burt rejected the idea that this new research points to a cure. “If we can show no evidence of disease activity at 15 to 20 years, then we may be able to able to talk about the possibility of a cure, but it is far too premature for that at present,” he told Medscape Medical News. “But from our results, I think we can certainly say that it changes the natural history of the disease."
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