Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Inflammasome activation in the central nervous system: determinants and outcomes in progressive MS

Principal Investigator: Dr. Christopher Power

Affiliation: University of Alberta

Year awarded: 2018-2019

Amount Awarded: $311,328

Keywords: inflammasomes, progressive multiple sclerosis, cell death


  • Inflammasomes are protein complexes in the immune system that are activated by infection. These complexes are also activated in multiple sclerosis (MS) and promote inflammation and brain injury.
  • The factors regulating inflammasomes in progressive MS are unclear.
  • The research team will:
    • Identify the molecular pathway by which inflammasomes contribute to damage in the tissue of individuals with progressive MS.
    • Modulate the function of inflammasomes to identify the impact on disease progression.

Project Description:

MS is usually a disease that is defined by progressive physical and mental disabilities. What drives the progression of MS remains uncertain. Nonetheless, it is widely recognized that inflammation within the brain and the spinal cord is a major cause of damage to the nervous system. From his previous grant, also supported by the MS Society, Dr. Christopher Power and his research team, identified a group of proteins within the brain that contribute to inflammation and also brain injury in MS. This family of proteins are called inflammasomes and promote inflammation and contribute to a type of cell death called pyroptosis (“fiery death”). The research team has also found that there are bacterial proteins in the brain which may activate the inflammasomes. To provide a unified picture and develop new strategies for prevention and treatment of MS, the project proposed will examine the effects of these bacterial molecules in human brains and look at the resulting effects on inflammasomes and damage to brain tissue. Moreover, they will investigate therapeutic strategies to prevent brain injury caused by inflammasomes.

Potential Impact: Develop a better understanding of inflammasomes in MS to identify preventative, diagnostic, and treatment options to halt the progression of MS.

Project Status: In Progress

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