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Monday, May 9, 2016

High Glutamate Levels in Brain Seen to Drive MS Progression


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May 9, 2016

Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have increased levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate in their brains, lowering the levels of N-acetylaspartate (NAA) — a process that likely leads to the loss of brain volume. The findings indicate that glutamate might be a driver of neuronal cell death and disease progression in MS, and a potential target of new therapies.
The amino acid glutamate is the main nerve-signaling molecule, or neurotransmitter, responsible for excitatory signals in the brain. Despite its abundance, it is usually tightly controlled, as excessive are toxic to cells.
Numerous lines of evidence point to the possibility that glutamate toxicity might contribute to MS. In addition, studies have shown that MS patients have higher levels of the neurotransmitter in their cerebrospinal fluid during relapses.

Using an advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique, researchers in previously found elevated glutamate levels in some types of MS brain lesions, as well as in normal-appearing white matter.

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