Sunlight is known to affect the onset and course of MS. Much of the research into sunlight has looked at the effects of vitamin D, however, UV radiation may also play a key role. Professor Prue Hart from the Telethon Kids Institute in Western Australia is examining whether exposure to UV radiation may be associated with suppression of the immune system. Mr Will Kermode will undertake a vacation scholarship under the supervision of Professor Hart in order to study the effects of exposure to UV radiation in mice.
There is evidence that MS frequency increases with latitude and reduced sun exposure. Using a number of different analysis techniques, Mr Kermode will study receptors in bone marrow stem cells in mice exposed to UV radiation, and determine the effects on the immune system and identify any benefits for lowering immune activity and potentially reducing MS severity. In particular, this project will look at whether any particular chemical drug compounds are able to replicate the effects of UV exposure, in order to identify potential new treatment options
Using a laboratory model, this project attempted to determine the one of the mechanisms by which UV light acts on the immune system via stem cells in the bone marrow. The short project focussed on one pathway which involves prostaglandin E2. Mr Kermode showed that when the prostaglandin E2 pathway was blocked the action of UV on the immune system remained, suggesting that other pathways are also at work and prostaglandin E2 only partially mediates the effect of UV. Due to technical challenges encountered during this project, further experiments are required to confirm this finding.
Updated: 24 April 2015
Updated: 02 January, 2015