Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Progressive MS

Dr Mark Slee

Flinders University

| Better treatments | Immunology | Project | 2007 | Investigator Led Research |


Progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) , whether it be Primary or Secondary progressive MS, is characterised by increasing disability, usually without relapses or attacks and is generally unresponsive to all currently available treatments for MS. It is very important to explore differences in progressive MS, especially mechanisms involved in Primary Progressive MS (PPMS).

We are exploring alterations in function of mitochondria (the part of the cell responsible for producing energy) in blood cells in PPMS compared to secondary progressive MS. Our early studies have suggested that in PPMS, mitochondria in blood cells involved in clotting and immune function (platelets) have altered mitochondrial function. We are now further examining this finding in different blood components in MS and determining its relation to disease severity in PPMS.

Project Outcomes

This project examines broadly the role of mitochondria in multiple sclerosis (MS). Mitochondria are little components of our cells that are responsible for energy production but also have other important roles such as assisting in cell death (apoptosis) and cell communication. Mitochondria have their own DNA.

Dr Slee and his colleagues are studying mitochondria in MS in two main ways. Firstly, Dr Slee studied the electrical properties of mitochondria in blood cells of persons with Primary Progressive MS and compared this to controls and secondary progressive MS.

Early evidence suggests a difference in mitochondrial membrane potential may exist in Primary Progressive MS and work is ongoing. Secondly, using brain tissue from people with MS are examining for evidence of mitochondrial abnormalities that may contribute to the development of brain inflammation.


  • Slee M, Sims N, Chataway T, MacArdle P, Thyagarajan, D. Platelet Mitochondrial Hyperpolarisation in Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. (Poster presented at ECTRIMS/ACTRIMS/LACTRIMS Montreal 2008)

Updated: 06 January, 2007


  • Dr Mark Slee, Flinders University and Medical Centre
  • Associate Professor Dominic Thyagarajan, Flinders Medical Centre

Grant Awarded

  • Project Grant

Total Funding

  • $30,000


  • 2 years

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Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Progressive MS