- Further research is needed before considering the clinical application of this finding.
- Mice with multiple sclerosis, kept in cold climates, have fewer symptoms.
In France, 110,000 people suffer from multiple sclerosis National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), Which is the leading cause of severe non-traumatic disability in adolescents. Currently, there is no treatment to cure this disease, but only to alleviate patients and improve their quality of life. According to a new study published in the journal Cell metabolismThe common cold is a new treatment option to reduce the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis: The immune system attacks its own cells
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system and leads to dysfunction of the immune system. It no longer protects the patient from external aggression and turns against its own cells, attacking the myelin, which surrounds and protects the nerve fibers. This phenomenon causes damage to the nerve fibers that prevents the brain from properly transmitting messages to the rest of the body and vice versa. Patients with this disease may suffer from a number of motor, sensory, and cognitive problems. More or less in the long run, these disorders progress to irreversible disability.
Work was done on rats kept in an environment of 10 degrees
To carry out their work, scientists began with the “biography theory” discovered in the 1950s. This suggests that the organism focuses on growth and reproduction only when the environment is favorable. Otherwise, it will abandon its basic functions because all of its energy resources are reserved for defense against external attacks.
In multiple sclerosis, the immune system is defective. Researchers have therefore experimented on mice, saying that exposure to cold – an unfavorable environment – causes their body to divert its energy resources from the immune system to maintain body heat. In other words, if the immune system stops attacking its own cells to focus on maintaining its body temperature. To do this, they gradually placed mice suffering from the human multiple sclerosis model in cold weather at 10 degrees.
Improvement in disease symptoms due to cold
“A few days later, we noticed a significant improvement in the clinical severity of the disease, as well as the extent of demyelination in the central nervous system., Explained Doreen Merkler, one of the authors of the study. Animals do not have difficulty maintaining their body temperature at normal levels, but, singularly, the symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders range dramatically from inability to walk on their hind legs to mild paralysis of the body.”. Therefore the results are reliable: in connection with low temperatures, the immune system does not attack the myelin that surrounds and protects the nerve fibers and patients have fewer symptoms of the disease. In fact, since the organism has a responsibility to increase its metabolism to maintain its heat, there are no resources for its other actions, which are especially harmful in the case of multiple sclerosis. The common cold therefore causes a decline in harmful immune cells and improves the symptoms of the disease.
However, the authors note that exposure to the common cold increases the risk of certain infections. Before considering the clinical application of this discovery, they will continue their research. The ultimate goal is for patients to benefit from the benefits of the cold without its harmful effects.