Pregnancy hormone may help multiple sclerosis patients

A pregnancy-related hormone helps rebuild the protective coating around nerve cells in mice, according to

University of
Calgary researchers. The finding offers hope for treatment of multiple sclerosis, a devastating neurodegenerative disease and other neurological disorders in humans.
It’s been an long-time observation that women with multiple sclerosis (MS) tend to go into remission when they become pregnant although researchers used to discourage women with MS to get pregnant as they are concerned that pregnancy may have negative effects on MS. The Canadian researchers, who were intrigued by the observation, conducted a study of mice and found that the hormone known as prolactin encourages the spontaneous production of myelin, the fatty substance that coats nerve cells and helps transmit signals in the central nervous system.

The study, believed to be the first to demonstrate that prolactin plays a role in protecting against damage to nervous cells, was conducted by researchers from the U of C’s Faculty of Medicine and published in the February 21 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

In the study, the researchers determined that prolactin, which increases in the pregnant women during pregnancy, is directly responsible for the formation of new myelin in the brain and spinal cords of pregnant mice.
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