Old Antioxidant Drug Could Be New MS Treatment
A new Multiple Sclerosis treatment could arise from use of an old antioxidant drug. At Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), a research team has made a discovery about the drug that could eventually result in a novel way to treat multiple sclerosis.
The brand name of the antioxidant is MitoQ, and the active ingredient is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This vitamin-like nutrient is found naturally in the body and especially in the pancreas, heart, liver, and kidney. Food sources include seafood and meats.
MitoQ has been specially formulated to deliver CoQ10 to the mitochondria, which are the power manufacturing organs found in the body’s cells. The supplement also reportedly helps repair problems with mitochondrial function and supports the health of the brain, liver, and heart while helping with healthy aging.
MitoQ and multiple sclerosis
In the new study, the investigators used mouse models of an MS-like disease (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, EAE) to test the effects of MitoQ. Four groups of mice were evaluated:
- Those with EAE only
- Mice given EAE and then treated with MitoQ
- Mice given MitoQ and then given EAE
- Controls: no EAE and no MitoQ
Mice that had EAE and were then treated with MitoQ showed an improvement in symptoms associated with MS after 14 days. This group of mice that had received treatment also had less loss of nerve fibers and reduced neurological problems.
However, the mice that experienced the least problems were those that received treatment with MitoQ before being given EAE. Among the improvements associated with MitoQ were “significantly reduced inflammation of the neurons and reduced demyelination,” according to one of the study’s authors, P. Hemachandra Reddy, PhD, an associate scientist in the Division of Neuroscience at OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center.
These benefits are important because in MS, the immune system attacks the protective coating (myelin) on the nerve fibers in the central nervous system. Therefore, reducing the potential for this damage “could be a new front in the fight against MS,” noted Reddy.
Multiple sclerosis affects approximately 400,000 people in the United States and an estimated 2.5 million individuals around the world. The cause of this autoimmune disease is not known, and its symptoms and their severity can vary widely among those who are affected.
Other natural ways to manage MS
Earlier in 2013, a report on other natural supplements for MS was published. In this case, however, the supplements were tested on patients with MS; specifically, relapsing-remitting MS, which is the most common form of the disease.
The supplements consisted of (1) omega-3 (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid) fatty acids plus vitamin A and vitamin E as alpha-tocopherol; (2) this combination plus gamma-tocopherol (another form of vitamin E); or (3) gamma-tocopherol alone. These supplements, in addition to a placebo, were given to four groups of patients over a 30-month period.
After two years, 8 relapses were reported by the 10 patients in group (2) while 25 relapses were noted by the 12 patients in the placebo group. Overall, use of the (2) supplement resulted in a 64 percent reduction in the risk of relapse.
Another natural approach to managing MS can include diet. Some research has indicated that adopting a low-fat diet, especially one that limited the amount of saturated fat, can be significantly helpful in reducing the number of attacks experienced by patients.
Other studies have suggested that MS patients should limit salt intake while some researchers have indicated that taking vitamin D supplements may help reduce the incidence of relapses. Following a gluten-free diet also has been found to help some patients.
Thus far there is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis, and individuals with the disease have a variety of treatment options that address symptoms. Among those options are drug-free, natural methods, including supplements and diet. In fact, one survey of 3,800 MS patients found that more than half of them had used some type of alternative medicine for their disease.
Even though MitoQ is already on the market, scientists need to conduct more research to determine exactly how it may be beneficial for treating MS and other neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
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