[908] Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most frequent demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS). It affects approximately two million people worldwide, with major individual and socio-economic consequences. Our laboratory has special interest in two crucial aspects of MS pathogenesis: role of viral infections in conditioning for demyelinating CNS disease and impact of gray matter pathology in MS.

A) Numerous reports provide strong epidemiological evidence for a link between environmental factors, namely viral infections, and the onset and relapses of MS, indicating that viruses precipitate disease and modulate its course in genetically susceptible individuals. With regard to MS, the unequivocal demonstration of a causative microbial invader is however still missing. Using novel viral report system, we aim to provide new key insights into how precedent viral infections can establish alterations in cellular homeostasis conferring the CNS with increased susceptibility to an autoimmune disease.

B) MS research has traditionally focused on white matter pathology. Recent studies have shown that MS lesions extend to the gray matter and that cortical involvement in MS has been greatly underestimated. Although there is increasing interest in cortical demyelination in MS, the contribution thereof to clinical disease manifestation remains incompletely defined. We have developed a refined mouse model that allows for the induction of targeted demyelinating lesions at a defined anatomical site as well as in a timed manner. Using this model, we aim to analyze the underlying pathomechanisms impeding neuronal integrity in the short and long term. Our studies may pave the way for novel therapeutic strategies for neuroprotection in MS.

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