Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Funded Research

Role of neutrophils as antigen-presenting cells in autoimmune demyelination

Year Awarded: 2016

Term: 3 years

Funding Amount: $424,452

Affiliation(s): Laval University

Province(s): Quebec

Researcher(s): Dr. Luc Vallières

Research Priorities: Cause of MS

Impact Goal(s): Understand and Halt Disease Progression


  • Neutrophils are white blood cells that are part of the immune system and are involved in the demyelination that occurs in multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • The mechanism of action through which neutrophils contribute to damage in MS is unknown.
  • The research team will:
    • Characterize the expression of key molecules involved in influencing neutrophils in demyelination
    • Evaluate the importance of neutrophil function in animal models of MS.

Project Description:

Neutrophil is a type of white blood cell that is part of the immune system and contributes to demyelination in MS. It is unknown how neutrophils contribute to the disease and disease progression. Dr. Vallières wants to unravel the mechanisms through which neutrophils exhibit their negative effects on MS by examining if they are interacting with another cell of the immune that is harmful in MS called T cells. Dr. Vallières research team plans to identify key molecules expressed by neutrophils that mediate demyelination and figure out the specific role of neutrophils in a mouse that exhibits MS-like symptoms. Furthermore, the research team plans to use genetically engineered mice that lack key molecules found in neutrophils to identify those key players that make neutrophils misbehave in MS. The research team has made great progress in characterizing neutrophils including markers that identify neutrophils, mechanisms through which neutrophils impact disease progression, and identifying the genetic make-up of neutrophils.

Potential Impact: By elucidating the mechanism of action of neutrophils, this study could help to identify new therapeutic targets and biomarkers for demyelinating diseases, such as neuromyelitis optica and certain forms or stages of MS.

Project Status: In Progress

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