Publication date: Apr 12, 2019
A link between fat molecules called ceramides and worsening disease in overweight and obese people with multiple sclerosis (MS) appears to exist, a study reports, with its findings suggesting that ceramides prompt the growth of immune cells called monocytes , which in turn spurs disease progression. To test this hypothesis, a team led by researchers at the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) at The Graduate Center and at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai analyzed 54 patients with relapsing-remitting MS (MS), ages 18 to 60, and with normal or high BMIs (27 people in each group). The researchers also found more methylation on the genomes of monocytes from high-BMI patients than those from low-BMI patients, and they noted that the overweight or obese patients also tended to have greater disease activity, worse disability progression, and more brain lesions on MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans on follow-up. Mice fed the high-fat diet were found to have greater disease severity, more brain lesions, and more monocytes, confirming the findings seen in MS patients. -Our findings suggest that increased levels of saturated fat as a result of dietary habits are one likely cause of the epigenetic changes that advance MS, which gives us a starting point for a potential intervention. ” -It will also be important to evaluate the effectiveness of dietary intervention (with an emphasis on the reduction of specific classes of saturated fats), as potential modulator of plasma ceramide levels and possibly of disease course in MS patients. “
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