Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

The pathologic basis of magnetic resonance imaging in multiple sclerosis

Principal Investigator: Dr. George Robert Moore

Affiliation: University of British Columbia

Year awarded: 2018-2019

Amount Awarded: $350,212.42

Keywords: Magnetic resonance imaging, white matter, grey matter, lesions

Summary:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been used to detect white matter (myelin dense regions) lesions – bright areas of damage commonly found in the brains of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). MRI also has the ability to detect subtle changes (or fluctuations) in white matter.
  • How minor lesionsseen on the MRI impact the disease is unknown.
  • The research team will:
    • Examine a protein constituting myelin that may have significant implications on the health and function of myelin
    • Measure lipid (fat) regulation of the immune and nervous system in the white and grey matter (nerve cell dense) regions
    • Use MRI and microscopy techniques to identify abnormalities in MS brain tissue

Project Description:

MS is marked by lesions, areas of scarring in the brain and spinal cord, that can be seen by MRI. In some individuals, MRI machines also detect more subtle changes in the brain and spinal cord. These changes appear as minor fluctuations in a person’s white matter, regions of the brain and spinal cord that are covered in myelin. Dr. Wayne Moore will continue the work previously supported by the MSSC to explore whether these subtle changes are also present at a lesion’s edge, but in an area so narrow that current MRI technology cannot yet detect it. As part of this project, the researchers will assess another component of myelin, a protein called claudin-11, which prevents the entry of water and other substances into myelin. Furthermore, research has shown that lipids are reduced in white matter lesions and Dr. Moore has added to this by finding by identifying molecules deliver lipids to the immune system in the white matter. Dr. Moore will expand these experiments to test if this is also true for the grey matter, the region where nerve cells reside. Furthermore, the research team will explore whether the delivery of lipids is an early or initial event in the formation of lesions or whether it is a secondary event which occurs as a response to the loss of myelin lipids due to an immune attack. Together, the studies proposed by Dr. Moore explore the abnormalities in MS brain tissue and how they may relate to changes seen on MRI, which is directly relevant to diagnosing and following the treatment response in people living with MS.

Potential Impact: Understand fundamental tissue abnormalities in MS to identify treatment approaches that could target these abnormalities.

Project Status: In Progress