A new research has suggested the possibility of reversing aging in the central nervous system in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
In multiple sclerosis, the insulating layers that protect nerve fibers in the brain, known as myelin sheaths, become damaged. The loss of myelin in the brain prevents nerve fibers from sending signals properly and will eventually lead to the loss of the nerve fiber itself.
However, early in the disease, a regenerative process, or remyelination, occurs and the myelin sheaths are restored. Unfortunately, as people with MS age, remyelination decreases significantly, resulting in more nerve fibers being permanently lost.
However, the latest study in mice shows that the age-associated decline in the regeneration of the nerve's myelin sheath, or remyelination, is reversible.
The proof of principle study demonstrates that when old mice are exposed to the inflammatory cells (called monocytes) from young mice, the ageing remyelination process can be reversed.
"What we have shown in our study, carried out in collaboration with Dr Amy Wagers and colleagues at Harvard University, is that the age-associated decline in remyelination is reversible," said Professor Robin Franklin, Director of the MS Society's Cambridge Center for Myelin Repair at the University of Cambridge.
"We found that remyelination in old adult mice can be made to work as efficiently as it does in young adult mice.
"For individuals with MS, this means that in theory regenerative therapies will work throughout the duration of the disease. Specifically, it means that remyelination therapies do not need to be based on stem cell transplantation since the stem cells already present in the brain and spinal cord can be made to regenerate myelin - regardless of the patient's age," he stated.
The study has just published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.