Multiple sclerosis patients enrolled in a study were found to have a genetic abnormality that leads to reduce brain levels of a specific neurosteroid called allopregnanolone, according to an international research team.
Previous studies have shown that neurosteroids play a key role in some brain functions as well as repair. The discovery, published in the journal Brain, could lead to new treatments for MS, which is characterized by inflammation and damage to myelin, the protective covering of nerve cells. As the disease progresses, it can affect vision, hearing, memory and movement.
Preliminary work looks promising. The researchers, led by Chris Power of the University of Alberta, report decreased brain inflammation in MS mice given additional levels of allopregnanolone.