The brain consists of two major forms of non-neuronal cells called oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. During MS the immune system attacks and destroys oligodendrocytes that insulate, sustain and regulate the function of neurons. Unlike oligodendroyctes, astrocytes are not the prime target of MS and are a valuable source of factors such as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that can be released to repair damaged oligodendrocytes and neurons early in MS. However in order to signal astrocytes to release these factors and treat MS we must first determine the nature of BDNF synthesis, storage and release from astrocytes in the brain.
The aim of this study is to determine how astrocytes release factors such as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and how this knowledge could be exploited as a therapy for MS. The exact mechanism of BDNF storage and release from astrocytes is currently not understood. Through understanding this process we hope to be able to develop methods to selectively activate or augment release of factors from these cells to ameliorate MS.
Updated: 03 January, 2009