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Blood pressure lowering drugs could treat multiple sclerosis

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Scientists have found that blood pressure lowering drugs could be used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) by reducing brain inflammation. An antihypertensive drug was studied in mice that blocks angiotensin II, a chemical that regulates blood pressure in the body and also activates TGF beta, a newly discovered immunological messenger involved in the brain signaling pathway. Blood pressure lowering drugs would be a safe and inexpensive means for controlling brain inflammation for individuals with multiple sclerosis according to researchers in Heidelberg and Stanford.

Scientists recently discovered angiotensin II receptors throughout the body that have no relationship to blood pressure regulation. Though angiotensin II (AT1R) blockers are widely used to treat hypertension, they also have an impact on immune fighting T cells, making the blood pressure drugs potentially useful to treating inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

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Multiple sclerosis leads to paralysis and neurological symptoms from inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. The blood pressure lowering drug Candesartan, given orally to mice, decreased inflammation and eliminated paralysis.

Professor Dr. Michael Platten, senior consultant at the Department of Neurooncology at Heidelberg University Hospital and the head of the Helmholtz University Young Investigators Group “Experimental Neuroimmunology” at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg explains angiotensin II blood pressure lowering drugs “are frequently prescribed for lowering blood pressure and have a proven safety profile”. He says testing the blood pressure drugs for treating multiple sclerosis patients would be an “obvious” next step.

Blood pressure lowering drugs show promise for reducing brain inflammation in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Angiotensin II blockers reduced levels of TGF in the brain, reducing inflammation that causes neurological symptoms and paralysis in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2010, online published July 12. Doi:10.1172/JCI41709