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Int J Mol Sci. 2012 Oct 22;13(10):13713-25. doi: 10.3390/ijms131013713.

The role of neurotrophins in multiple sclerosis-pathological and clinical implications.

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Department of Neurochemistry and Neuropathology, Chair of Neurology, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 49, Przybyszewskiego st., 60-355 Poznan, Poland.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating and neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system (CNS) with unknown etiology. It was recently suggested that autoimmunity, which had long been considered to be destructive in MS, might also play a protective role in the CNS of MS patients. Neurotrophins are polypeptides belonging to the neurotrophic factor family. While neurotrophins mediate cell survival and proliferation in the nervous system, they are also expressed within peripheral blood mononuclear cells fraction (PBMCs) of immunological system. In MS additional neurotrophic support from PBMCs might compensate relative neurotrophins deficiency in the damaged CNS tissue that needs to be repaired. Failure to produce the adequate neurotrophins concentrations might result in decreased protection of the CNS, consequently leading to increased atrophy, which is the main determinant of MS patients' end-point disability. There are several lines of evidence, both from clinical research and animal models, suggesting that neurotrophins play a pivotal role in neuroprotective and neuroregenerative processes that are often defective in the course of MS. It seems that neuroprotective strategies might be used as potentially valuable add-on therapies, alongside traditional immunomodulatory treatment in multiple sclerosis.

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