I'm swooping in for a quick reality check on some MS and Gender research I've come across. I'm personally able “on first glance” to easily interpret some findings as being totally consistent with the notion that MS may not be an auto immune disease. Since it’s so obvious to me I’m afraid I’m missing something. Hence, I’m curious to know how others interpret the same info, i.e., consistent or inconsistent with the notion MS is not an auto immune disease.
First, my most basic understanding of the Australian research suggesting MS may not be auto immune is that some brain cells die before the inflammation starts. I also have the impression that it is the damage to and loss (death) of nerve fibers that causes permanent damage in people with MS.
Now, two findings from the NMSS site link "Gender Gap Reaches Brain Cells" (Sorry folks, I haven't a clue how to do those hot links)
First study findings:
Interpretation and Questions:
A recent study using MRI brain scans in over 400 men and women with MS....suggests that women show greater MRI signs of inflammation (lesions that often resolve and are not necessarily permanent) than men, while men show less inflammation but more indications of permanent tissue damage than women.
Women with MS tend to generally have less severe symptoms than men. This study found women have more MRI signs of inflammation but less signs of permanent damage. Isn’t that exactly what a not auto-immune theory might predict? i.e., If the inflammation came first and was the primary contributor to cell death causing damage (current auto-immune theory), women would be expected to exhibit more rather than fewer areas of permanent damage on MRI since they have more inflammation. That’s not what the study found. The study found fewer areas of permanent damage and more inflammation.
Men with MS tend to generally have more severe symptoms than women. This study found men showed more signs of permanent damage and less inflammation. Again, isn’t that exactly what a not auto immune theory might predict? i.e., If the inflammation came first and was the primary contributor to cell death causing damage (current auto-immune theory), men would be expected to exhibit more rather than fewer areas of inflammation resulting in more permanent damage seen on MRI. That’s not what the study found. The study found less inflammation and more permanent damage.
Interpretation and Questions
...preliminary findings that males have more myelin-making cells, and thicker myelin, than females, while female brains appear to produce myelin-making cells that die at a higher rate, and their myelin appears to degrade faster
: Again, if brain cells die first and then there’s inflammation, (i.e. not auto-immune) aren’t these exactly the type of findings you might expect to be different in men and women?
That is, if the inflammation came first (auto-immune), wouldn’t you expect women, with thinner myelin, whose cells die at a higher rate and degrades faster, to exhibit more permanent damage than men on MRI and to generally have more severe symptoms?
And, if the inflammation came first (auto-immune), wouldn’t you expect men, with thicker myelin and more myelin making cells, to exhibit less permanent damage on MRI (thicker myelin protecting men’s nerve fibers from death as a result of the inflammation first and then nerve fiber loss) than women and to have generally less severe symptoms than women?
Now, I know I have gone in circles
with this chicken and egg thing and these two findings for way too long. I would like to hear what others think, do these two MS and Gender findings tend to be consistent with the idea MS is not-auto immune or not? What am I missing?
(BTW, I haven’t read the actual study reports for either one of these , so won’t be able to answer questions about them.)
Thanks everyone for your patience with my learning curve.