Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience have found differences in the microglia in white and grey matter areas in the brains of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). The findings were published in Nature Communications.
MS is characterized by inflammations that lead to the breakdown of myelin, the insulating sheath of nerve cells in the brain. Known is that microglia – the local immune cells and waste processors in the brain – take up myelin in MS, but the exact role of the immune cells is undetermined. In order to increase understanding of this process, the research group of Inge Huitinga has researched microglia in brain areas without inflammations. The research was conducted in post mortem brain material from donors with MS whom donated their brains to the Netherlands Brain Bank.
The researchers found that microglia in normal-looking brain matter showed the first signs of MS, while the immunological response (e.g. inflammation) not yet took place. In addition, there were clear differences between microglia in white and grey matter, which suggests that microglia from these separate brain areas can play different roles in the emergence of MS inflammations.
These findings show that microglia are an important target for treatment of MS.