University Hospital Vrije: immune-primed microglia

Immune-primed microglia: a factor underlying progressive multiple sclerosis

Principal Investigator: Sandra Amor, Ph.D.
Institution: University Hospital Vrije Universisteit-VUMC
Country: The Netherlands
Amount Awarded: €74,999

This team aims to investigate the specific role of brain cells called “microglia” on MS progression. Both primary and secondary progressive MS start around 35 years, irrespective of relapses, suggesting that age may be a factor. Microglia help to activate the immune system (which attacks the brain and spinal cord in MS), but also dampen inflammation, producing substances that promote repair. A subtle balance exists between these two opposing functions. With increasing age, this balance shifts, and microglia become less effective in their protective functions, and more active stimulating damage, possibly explaining why progression increases with age. This team proposes to examine microglia from people with different types of MS, and people without neurological disease, taking into account their ages. This may reveal differences between “young” and “old” microglia, and differences between people with and without MS. They are extending these experiments in mice with relapsing-remitting MS-like disease that later becomes progressive.

What does this mean for people living with progressive MS?

Understanding the impact of age on inflammation and repair may help to identify new avenues to counteract age-induced changes and prevent them from causing MS to progress.

Principal Investigator Sandra Amor

Sandra Amor

Sandra Amor

Sandra Amor, PhD, earned her BSc and her PhD from the University of London, England. She completed her postdoctoral training with a focus on viral infections and autoimmunity in the central nervous system at St Thomas’ Hospital, London. She now conducts research at the VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, focusing on understanding the first steps in the formation of MS brain lesions (damaged areas) and the impact of aging and the immune response in progressive MS. Her work in the field has earned her recognition from the Dutch MS society (Stichting MS Research) for which she was awarded a Senior fellowship. She was also awarded a “Best Information” Award by the UK MS Society for establishing “Meet the Scientist,” a forum to explain scientific research to people with MS.



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