We have previously found high rates of depression in both Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Transverse Myelitis (TM) patients. Preliminary results from neuropsychological testing has also shown impaired memory and concentration in many patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and transverse myelitis (TM), providing further evidence of the widespread and disseminated impact of inflammation on the brain.
We have applied the use of Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS), a technique that allows us to examine the function rather than the structure of the brain of our patients, to help better understand of the basis of immune-mediated depression and cognitive impairment in patients with MS and TM.
Other aims of this research are: to understand the mechanisms by which inflammation in the CNS causes depression and impaired memory so that we can more effectively diagnose and treat these important aspects of MS and TM.
We previously reported the findings of dramatically elevated CSF IL-6 (an inflammatory cytokine) levels in a total of 25 patients with TM that correlated with the level of patient disability. In a follow-up to these findings, we measured cytokine levels from MS, TM and healthy controls. Consistent with previous findings, elevated levels of IL-6 were seen in TM patients relative to MS and Healthy Controls. We also found that MS patients had elevated levels of IL-17, a cytokine known to be aggressive in autoimmune diseases and that lead to a production of IL-6. We are pursuing further analysis to investigate correlations of cytokine levels and MRS metabolites with mood and cognition. This research is conducted by members of Dr Adam Kaplin’s lab.