Research Areas:

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic progressive disease. During MS the insulating layer around the nerves of the brain and spinal cord, the myelin sheath, is attacked and destroyed by the immune system. Genetic and environmental factors contribute to the disease, but the exact working mechanisms are still unknown. Currently, there are no drugs available to cure MS. Animal models can help to understand early events and to translate these into potential new treatments. For this, BPRC uses the EAE (experimentally-induced encephalomyelitis) model.

EBV-infected B-lymphocytes talk to T-lymphocytes

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Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the virus that causes mononucleosis (Ziekte van Pfeiffer). Infection with EBV is also the strongest environmental risk factor of MS, but a mechanistic explanation is still lacking. Earlier we showed that B-lymphocytes infected with an EBV-related herpes virus processes myelin different from non-infected cells. Here we collected evidence that citrullination of myelin can shift the disease pathogenesis towards neurodegeneration.

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How changing diet reduced MS-like disease in marmoset monkeys

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At BPRC we use the experimentally-induced encephalomyelitis (EAE) model to study MS in humans. In this model marmoset sensitized with recombinant human myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein in IFA develop clinically evident EAE. After the introduction of a new supplement to the diet of our marmosets, the development of EAE decreased from 100 to 65%. To investigate if there was a relationship between the diet and the induction of EAE, a study was performed with twin siblings. One of the twin siblings was reverted to the original diet while the other was not. In the reverted siblings 100% disease prevalence was observed, whereas in siblings remaining on the new diet the EAE prevalence was 75%. Spinal cord demyelination, a classical hallmark of the disease, was significantly lower in new-diet monkeys than in monkeys reverted to the original diet. Systematic typing of the marmoset gut microbiota using 16S rRNA sequencing demonstrated a unique, Bifidobacteria-dominated composition, which changed after disease induction. RNA-sequencing revealed reduced apoptosis and enhanced myelination in the brain. Our data show dietary intervention exerts positive effects on EAE-related parameters in multiple compartments of the marmoset's gut-immune-CNS axis.

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