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ALS Study Finds Body's Immune System Contributes to Damage PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 14 June 2012 03:03

UCLA

In the ALS spinal cord, a patient's own immune cells called macrophages (green) impact neurons (live neurons =red, which are also marked by an asterisk (*), and dead neurons = magenta that are marked by an arrow.

WESTWOOD (CNS) - The body's own immune system may contribute to damaging nerve cells in the spinal column of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, according to UCLA researchers.

ALS is a progressively worsening condition that affects the neurons of the brain and spinal column controlling voluntary muscle movement.

UCLA researchers found that inflammation triggered by the immune system due to ALS activates macrophages, cells responsible for consuming pathogens and waste products.

"During the inflammation process, motor neurons, whether healthy or not, are marked for cleanup by the macrophages," according to a UCLA statement.

The researchers also found that a fatty "mediator" called resolvin D1 "blocked the inflammatory proteins being produced by the macrophages, curbing the inflammation process that marked the neurons for cleanup."

D1 is made in the body from the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which previously had been shown to protect neurons in cases of Alzheimer's disease, stroke and other conditions.

According to researchers, D1 may offer a way of lessening the inflammation associated with ALS, though currently there is no effective way of administering resolvins to patients.

The research appeared in the American Journal of Neurodegeneration.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 14 June 2012 03:06