Multiple sclerosis is one of the neurodegenerative diseases that represents the most difficulties for patients. The cause of this disease is particularly related to an exaggerated functioning of the immune system. Different than other diseases involving the immune system, such as the human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which prevents the body from protecting itself from other viruses, fungi, bacteria, when it comes to multiple sclerosis, we are talking about an excess of defenses that cause the body to fight itself. The immune system destroys a protective layer of the brain cells, and from that point on, the nervous degeneration of the body is irreversible. It is said that there are a little over 2 million patients in the whole world suffering from this disease. However, one fact that has called attention to the medical community is that it mainly attacks women. Until recently, the reason behind this fact had been a mystery, but now the cause has been found, and it has become a possible way to control the MS symptoms.
Read also: These Are The Most Common Early Signs Of MS To Watch For, by Joe Cosgrove
Men are less likely to suffer multiple sclerosis than women. It has been discovered that the real cause of this is the presence of high levels of testosterone in the human body. This discovery happened by mistake, like many of the great inventions and human discoveries of science, indeed. In a lab, male mice were used instead of females, because the student who was in charge of the experiment was not able to distinguish male mice from female mice. During the experiment, once the error was discovered, it was found that the male mice’s testosterone worked as a defense against the degenerative process of sclerosis. The testosterone molecule contains an immune cell composed of a guardian molecule called the cytokine IL-33. What allows this guardian molecule is to trigger a torrent of other substances, which, in turn, do not allow the immune cells to develop, which is the reason for directly affecting the layers of myelin in the brain and spinal cord tissues, and that, subsequently, interrupt the normal conduction of the nervous signal and thus produce sensory disorders, the loss of motor functions, the loss of vision, and the cognitive deficits produced by multiple sclerosis.
This explains many things that were just interesting coincidences in the past. The levels of testosterone are much lower in adult women than in men, at a rate of almost seven times lower. For this reason, women’s bodies have the tendency of destroying their own myelin layers, even at younger ages than men who suffer from this disease. Normally, male patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis are older, since the levels of testosterone fall downhill, and the disease is usually much more aggressive, which makes the degeneration much faster, and the symptoms much more difficult to control.
This discovery is a great opportunity to deal with multiple sclerosis, both in men and women. So far, there have been great advances in the control of multiple sclerosis, mainly focused on the suppression of the immune system, which, in turn, produces a series of side effects, which make patients more vulnerable to the infections produced by the bacteria which is present in the environment. This new discovery will surely produce new ways to control multiple sclerosis, without negatively affecting the patients’ immune system. There have been a series of clinical trials that have shown that conducting a treatment with testosterone for a year is the most effective way so far to reduce the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and to almost imperceptible levels. Sadly, this disease is still incurable. As well as the great health problems that afflict most of the patients all over the world, multiple sclerosis is a matter of mere regulation and balance. It can’t be cured. This is one of the reasons why patients feel so much frustration, and many of them feel depressed since they believe that life is never going to be the same as it was before. Like other diseases of the immune system, such as lupus, the most that can be achieved from the medical point of view is to reduce the symptoms to a point where the patients’ lives take place in a normal way.
Nevertheless, the magic of medical science is that we will never end up discovering everything. There will always be a missing piece of the puzzle and that will allow us to see the whole picture much more clearly. This discovery is an example of it, a very good example, by the way, because many answers can be found in the very human body (and nobody suspected anything about it for years.) Nobody knows if in the future we will completely eliminate multiple sclerosis. By now, the only thing we can do is taking advantage of what this new missing (and then found) puzzle piece is offering us. Let’s be positive and keep researching!
* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com