Welcome! This blog contains research & information on lifestyle, nutrition and health for those with MS, as well as continuing information on the understanding of the endothelium and heart-brain connection. This blog is informative only--all medical decisions should be discussed with your own physicians.

The posts are searchable---simply type in your topic of interest in the search box at the top left.

Almost all of MS research is initiated and funded by pharmaceutical companies. This maintains the EAE mouse model and the auto-immune paradigm of MS, and continues the 20 billion dollar a year MS treatment industry. But as we learn more about slowed blood flow, gray matter atrophy, and environmental links to MS progression and disability--all things the current drugs do not address--we're discovering more about how to help those with MS.

To learn how this journey began, read my first post from August, 2009. Be well! Joan

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Understanding Endothelial Dysfunction--learning from Ebola crisis

The horrific outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa is causing researchers and physicians around the globe to ask what can be done to slow the death rates in this vulnerable population.

A recent piece in the New York Times, titled "Can Statins Help Treat Ebola?"  is authored by Dr. David S. Fedson, a retired professor of medicine at the University of Virginia.  Dr. Fedson writes about the current crisis of the Ebola epidemic and the short supply of life-saving drugs.  He suggests that there are other treatments, aside from experimental and expensive drugs, that have already been tested in humans, are readily available and can modify the body's response to the virus.

How would these drugs help?  They target endothelial dysfunction.

More than a decade ago, clinicians noted striking similarities between patients with Ebola and those with bacterial sepsis. Both diseases involve severe dysfunction of the endothelial cells that line blood vessels throughout the body. This dysfunction in turn precipitates major abnormalities in blood coagulation. Both can eventually lead to the failure of internal organs, primarily the liver and kidneys, and organ failure often leads to death. 

Researchers have since discovered that abnormalities of endothelial function and coagulation can be modified or reversed by treatment with drugs such as statins, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs), which were developed to treat patients with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. 

Dr. Fedson suggests that strengthening the endothelium with cardiovascular drugs may be the key to stopping organ failure and saving lives in the Ebola outbreak.

These very same statins have been suggested as a treatment for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, as they reduced brain atrophy (from 0.6% to 0.3% per year) in pwMS when compared to placebo.  MS doctors are more accepting of a pill, rather than life-style modification, when treating disease, as a pill can be placebo-controlled and trialled.  And they most certainly never explain why cardiovascular treatments might slow brain atrophy.  But as we have all learned, it's because of blood flow to the brain.

In fact, all of the above mentioned cardiovascular drug treatments are now being tested in people with MS, to slow down neurodegeneration and brain atrophy; death of brain tissue due to endothelial dysfunction.  These drugs are not immune modulating---rather, they address blood flow, endothelial function and coagulation.  Here's more on the new medications being tested in MS.

What can those with a chronic and progressive disease like MS take away from this deadly Ebola outbreak?   There is a vascular connection to this terrible disease, as there is a vascular connection to MS.  A strong endothelium is the body's best defense.  Keeping the blood vessel lining healthy and impermeable is the surest way to maintain cerebral circulation for those with MS.   Endothelial health will slow brain atrophy and may even reverse it.

But you don't need a statin.  There is much that can be done with lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise.

Here's to more healing ahead!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Inadequate cerebral blood flow and loss of neurons in MS

A new study was recently been published in the JAMA Neurology journal.  One of the investigators is Yulin Ge, MD--a recent presenter at the International Society for Neurovascular Disease conference.  www.isnvd.org  Dr. Ge has been imaging the MS brain for over a decade at NYU, and he has found many vascular connections to MS.

The study looks at cerebrovascular reactivity, or CVR.  CVR is how the brain reacts or responds  with blood flow when there is vasodilation.  This function is extremely important, as neurons need adequate blood flow to provide glucose and oxygenation.  Without this response of adequate cerebral bloodflow (CBF), the brain will not function properly, and neurons can potentially die.


What this new study did to measure CVR was to look at how healthy controls and pwMS responded to a hypercapnia (too much carbon dioxide), which the researchers created by using 5% carbon dioxide gas.  This gas increases cerebral blood flow by creating vasodilation--or a widening of blood vessels.  A healthy endothelium (lining of the blood vessels) would normally respond to hypercapnia by widening vessels and allowing for more blood to flow to the brain.

Patients with MS had a significant decrease of cerebrovascular reactivity compared with controls. This decrease in CRV correlated to gray matter atrophy, but did not correlate with white matter lesions. 

Their conclusion was that there is an impairment in the cerebrovascular pathophysiology in pwMS, and that inadequate blood flow to neurons may indeed be the cause of neurodegeneration in MS.  And that this was a vascular problem, NOT a problem initiated by white matter lesions.

We know that impaired CVR is related to arterial stenosis and occlusion of the blood vessels in the neck.  http://www.hindawi.com/journals/rrp/2012/268483/

Note that this new study did not hypothesize why this is happening in people with MS. But this study could well be related to what the Columbia researchers saw when they damaged the vascular endothelial cells outside the brain.

The Columbia University study, which was published earlier this summer, found that when researchers damaged the vascular endothelial cells lining the blood vessels outside the brain using lasers to cause oxidative stress,  they could disrupt blood flow to the brain and affect neurovascular coupling.  http://ccsviinms.blogspot.com/2014/06/columbia-researchers-provide-new.html

Dr. Zamboni has noted that there is a derangement of the endothelial cell layer in the jugular veins and valves in people with CCSVI/MS.  This loss of endothelial cell integrity could well be causing the decrease in cerebrovascular reactivity seen in people with MS.

As an anecdotal side note, my husband's gray matter atrophy reversed after he was treated for dural and jugular venous stenosis and began following the Endothelial Health Program.
And he has had no further MS progression since 2007.

The heart and brain are connected, and a healthy endothelium is essential to both.
Something to consider,