Chronic pain in an animal model of multiple sclerosis

Chronic pain is a common debilitating symptom affecting between 50% and 80% of MS patients. However, despite its widespread occurrence, chronic pain is a rarely studied symptom of this disease. The pathology of MS is largely attributed to self-reactive T cells recognising myelin antigen that penetrate the blood-brain barrier, become activated in the central nervous system, and orchestrate a cascade of events including chronic inflammation, primary demyelination, and axonal damage.  Interestingly, T cells have been found to play a pivotal role in mediating chronic pain caused by nerve injury. Thus, we hypothesise that suppressing the T cell response will reduce neuroinflammatory response and pain hypersensitivity in MS. We use an animal model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, to test the effects of modulating immunosuppressive regulatory T cells on inflammatory responses in nervous system areas related to pain and on pain behaviours.  This study will contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms underlying pain in MS and will provide a basis for the development of novel approaches to pain management in MS patients.

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