A study by US researchers have found that a glucosamine-like dietary supplement suppresses the damaging autoimmune response seen in multiple sclerosis.
Dr. Michael Demetriou, Ani Grigorian and others at the University of California, Irvine, found that oral N-acetylglucosamine, which is similar to but more effective than the widely available glucosamine, inhibited the growth and function of abnormal T-cells that in MS incorrectly direct the immune system to attack and break down central nervous system tissue that insulates nerves.
Earlier this year, Demetriou and colleagues discovered that environmental and inherited risk factors associated with MS converge to affect how specific sugars are added to proteins regulating the disease.
"This sugar-based supplement corrects a genetic defect that induces cells to attack the body in MS, making metabolic therapy a rational approach that differs significantly from currently available treatments," said Demetriou.
Virtually all proteins on the surface of cells, including immune cells such as T-cells, are modified by complex sugar molecules of variable sizes and composition. Recent studies have linked changes in these sugars to T-cell hyperactivity and autoimmune disease," he added.
The study has been published online in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.