MS is caused by the immune system attacking the myelin. Myelin is the insulating covering of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and is produced by cells called oligodendrocytes. Associate Professor Fitzgerald has developed a laboratory model that she has successfully demonstrated can be used to model the damage to the central nervous system after an initial lesion or wound in a particular area.
Professor Fitzgerald has been using this model to investigate oxidative damage, a specific type of damage that is caused by highly chemically reactive molecules in the brain. It is thought that oxidative damage also occurs in MS and in this project, Associate Professor Fitzgerald is testing the idea that oxidative stress specifically damages the oligodendrocytes. Damage to the oligodendrocytes prevents the repair of myelin which in turn allows secondary degeneration of nerve cells to occur. Associate Professor Fitzgerald will also investigate whether the damage and degeneration can be inhibited using chemical agents which are known to block oxidative stress.
Associate Professor Melinda Fitzgerald and her team have begun inducing myelin degeneration in their laboratory model. The group has collected and started processing the tissues so that they can look at the oligodendrocytes and their precursor cells in the tissue. They will assess indicators of oxidative stress, including several enzymes and molecules called that are known to be activated folliwng oxidative damage (these include manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), glutathione peroxidase-1(GPx-1), hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF-1), lipid peroxidation indicator hydroxynonenal (HNE), protein nitration indicator 3-nitrotyrosine (3NT) and DNA oxidation indicator 8-hydroxy guanosine (8OHDG). Further studies will then determine what effect this has on function and behaviour of the cells that produce myelin. The team will also look at how they can prevent oxidative stress in this model and whether that can help to enhance myelin repair.
Updated 27 June 2017
Updated: 03 January, 2016