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MS Research Update: Salt and Multiple Sclerosis

Increased dietary salt was reported to increase the immune attack on myelin in three studies this week. All three were published in the journal Nature.

  1. A study by Kleinewietfeld, et al, looked at TH17 cells, which is a type of lymphocyte that is highly inflammatory and that causes substantial tissue damage. These cells were grown in cultures in the lab. Some had normal and others high salt levels in their cultures. Those grown in a high salt environment had increased markers for inflammation. This seemed to be due to activation of one particular set of chemical signals in the cell, called the p38/MAPK pathway. They also looked at mice with an MS-like disease called experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). Mice fed a high salt diet had worse EAE than those fed a normal diet.
  2. A study by Wu, et al, also looked at TH17 cells. An analysis was done on genes associated with activation of TH17 cells, and SGK1 was identified as an important protein in this process. The SGK1 pathway was found to be more active if cells were cultured in a high salt environment. This was then studied in mice with EAE. Mice fed a high salt diet had more severe EAE. Blocking the SGK1 pathway seemed to reverse the effect of the high salt diet on the EAE.
  3. A study by Yosef, et al, also looked a the genes associated with activation of TH17 cells. They identified 22 sets of related genes that increased TH17 cell activity and 5 that decreased activity.

TH17 cells are highly inflammatory and likely contribute to the severe damage done to tissues in a number of diseases. Their precise role in MS is not fully understood, but it is believed that ...

Moving with MS through music

It is well documented that exercise is beneficial for the body and mind because it promotes strength, endurance, flexibility, range of motion, mood, and a general sense of health and well-being. All these “perks” improve function in our daily lives. Add music to the aerobics routine and the soul is uplifted. After all, music can calm or energize the spirit and often allows us to move more freely.

The MS Center at Swedish offers free aerobics classes to the MS community for the joy of movement and music. In contrast to the typical dance-like moves that might come to mind when you think of aerobics, the exercises in Aerobics for MS are designed to increase strength and mobility for functional movements part of everyday life. Most of all, they’re meant to be fun! Classes take place in a supportive and relaxed environment, and all abilities are invited.

For more information about MS aerobics classes...

Swedish Contributes to New Treatment Option for Multiple Sclerosis

 On September 12, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved teriflunomide for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). Teriflunomide (AUBAGIO) is a once-daily pill for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS. Led by Dr. Lily Jung Henson, the Swedish Neuroscience Institute was among several clinical sites that tested the drug. Results of the research showed that teriflunomide can lessen MS disease activity. Specifically, it behaves similarly to injectable therapies by slowing MS relapse frequency, the rate of disability and MRI activity.

The safety profile, however, is more challenging than ....

Swedish Set to Open State-of-the-Art Multiple Sclerosis Center; New Facility Has Been Under Development for Several Years and Largely Funded Through Philanthropy

SEATTLE – April 6, 2012 – Swedish Neuroscience Institute (SNI) is set to open its new MS Center to patients. Carefully designed for easy accessibility and to promote the well-being of people with MS, the new 11,700-square-foot center gives SNI the ability to consolidate all of its MS services into one facility. An additional 1,500-square-feet of outside therapy terrace will provide a safe environment for patients to work with a therapist on improving their gait over different terrain.

The new center also enables scientists, researchers, physicians and patients to work collaboratively toward new treatment options for those diagnosed with MS. In a move that further establishes Swedish’s neuroscience program as a leader in the region, the MS Center at Swedish is the largest, most comprehensive facility of its kind on the West Coast and one of only a handful in the country.

What you should know about Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

You hear the diagnosis multiple sclerosis (MS) and your world stops. You don’t know what to think, who to tell, or what to do about your future.

In this video, four people living with MS tell their stories:

But even if you aren’t diagnosed with MS, here are some things you should know:

Sexual Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis

Although Inga is quite able bodied, she is having sexual problems. Sexual dysfunction, which may occur early or late in the course of MS, does not always correlate to the degree of physical disability. Often it is under-recognized and goes untreated. It is present in up to 90 percent of men and in nearly as many women. In women, the most common problems are low libido and altered genital sensation. For men, the major problem is erectile dysfunction.

Sexual dysfunction can be a direct result of demyelination in the central nervous system. Secondary changes are related to poor bladder control or muscle weakness, and psychological, social or cultural issues that interfere with sexual feelings or responses. Examples of the latter include alterations in body image and low self esteem.

Regardless of the cause, sexual dysfunction can adversely affect quality of life and contribute to additional problems. 

Pharmacologic Treatment of Nystagmus in Multiple Sclerosis

At least half of all people with multiple sclerosis (MS) are expected to have nystagmus at some point during the course of their illness. Nystagmus results from demyelination that involves the brainstem or cerebellar eye movement pathways. While it may be asymptomatic, it often causes blurred vision or oscillopsia. The extent of the visual disturbance is directly related to the velocity of the slow phase of the nystagmus.

In MS patients with chronic nystagmus, the most common form is an acquired pendular nystagmus (APN), which is almost always accompanied by optic atrophy, and often by internuclear ophthalmoplegia (INO).

Numerous treatment trials have demonstrated the efficacy of pharmacologic treatment of chronic symptomatic nystagmus. Treatment should be considered in individuals in whom blurred vision or oscillopsia is severe enough to warrant the potential risk of medication side effects. As a general rule, drugs used to treat nystagmus are titrated slowly upwards from a low dose to either efficacy or tolerance.

The two most effective medications for APN in MS are....

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