Environmental pollutant may have a role in causing multiple sclerosis

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Washington, Nov 24 (ANI): Scientists have discovered that an environmental pollutant may play an important role in causing multiple sclerosis and that a hypertension drug might be used to treat the disease.

The toxin acrolein was elevated by about 60 percent in the spinal cord tissues of mice with a disease similar to multiple sclerosis, said Riyi Shi, a medical doctor.

The research results represent the first concrete laboratory evidence for a link between acrolein (pronounced a-KRO-le-an) and multiple sclerosis, he said.

The compound is an environmental toxin found in air pollutants including tobacco smoke and auto exhaust. Acrolein also is produced within the body after nerve cells are damaged.

Previous studies by this research team found that neuronal death caused by acrolein can be prevented by administering the drug hydralazine, an FDA-approved medication used to treat hypertension.

The new findings show that hydralazine also delays onset of multiple sclerosis in mice and reduces the severity of symptoms by neutralizing acrolein.

The researchers also learned the specific chemical signature of the drug that binds to acrolein and neutralizes it, potentially making it possible to create synthetic alternatives with reduced side effects.

The paper was written by doctoral students Gary Leung, Wenjing Sun and Lingxing Zheng; graduate research assistant Melissa Tully, who is an MD-Ph.D. student at Purdue and the Indiana University School of Medicine; postdoctoral researcher Sarah Brookes; and Shi.

The study appeared in a paper appearing online this month in the journal Neuroscience. (ANI)

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