Friday, August 17, 2007

I Knew That...

Well, it's has just proven my EX really DID give me Multiple Sclerosis!!!

I ran across an interesting article of research done by my lovely Texas friends regarding the effects of STRESS on the immune system and guess what? Who KNEW that stress really DOES play an important role in breaking down our bodies and setting up lovely autoimmune diseases such as MS?!? Well, hell...just ASK anyone with MS and they could have told you that!

But the article IS interesting and fully worth breaking all copyright laws to post it here:

How Chronic Stress Worsens Neurodegenerative Disease Course

Science Daily — The evidence is accumulating on how bad stress is for health. Chronic stress can intensify inflammation and increase a person's risk for developing central nervous system infections, neurodegenerative diseases, like multiple sclerosis (MS), and other inflammatory diseases, say researchers presenting at the 115th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (APA).

These researchers have demonstrated for the first time that stress-related increases in central nervous system
inflammation are behind the adverse effects of stress in an animal model of MS.

Researchers from Texas A & M University used mice to show what role social stress plays in the immune process to influence the course of an MS-like disease. They proposed that stress-induced increases of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that regulate immune and inflammatory functions, inhibit the clearing of a virus and allow the inflammatory process to run amok. Stress, say the authors, may interact with viral infections to increase vulnerability to diseases such as MS. Meta-analysis of studies investigating the impact of stressful events in patients with MS show an increased risk of worsening symptoms of the disease.

In a series of experiments on mice, the authors showed that increases in a particular cytokine -- interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is released during stress and regulates the part of the immune system that fights infection -- can make socially stressed mice vulnerable to MS-like illnesses.

The researchers used a social disruption model (SDR) to simulate social stress for mice and then infected the mice with Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis (TMEV). Infection with TMEV results in an acute infection of the central nervous system followed by a chronic autoimmune disease similar to that seen in humans with MS. Their laboratory has previously shown that exposure to social stress prior to infection exacerbates both the early viral infection and the later autoimmune demyelinating MS-like phase of the disease.

To create a stressful environment, researchers housed three young male mice together for several weeks. After the mice established a stable social hierarchy, researchers introduced an older aggressive male into the residence for a couple of hours. The intruder exhibits aggressive behavior -- posturing, fighting, wounding, pursuit -- that results in submissive behaviors and social defeat in the younger resident mice. This procedure was repeated for three consecutive nightly two-hour sessions with one night off, followed by an additional three nightly sessions. To keep the mice from getting used to the intruder, a new intruder was introduced for each session.

What they found was this stress appears to elevate levels of IL-6, which subsequently increases the severity of the MS-like illness. Furthermore, using specific IL-6 neutralizing antibody treatments during the stress exposure can prevent the stress-related worsening of the disease, said the authors.

In one experiment, they showed that mice exposed to social disruption had elevated central and peripheral levels of IL-6. However, infusing the neutralizing antibody into the brain prevented this stress-induced increase in IL-6. This demonstrated that the antibody could effectively reverse the stress-related increases in IL-6 in brain and in circulating blood.

Results from a second experiment showed that administering the IL-6 neutralizing antibody during the stress exposure prevented worsening of the TMEV infection. By blocking the stress-induced elevation of IL-6, TMEV infection was weakened, which lessened some of the disease symptoms, such as motor impairment, inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, and the viral level in the central nervous system.

Based on these findings, Dr. Mary Meagher, the lead researcher, proposes that the adverse effects of stress-induced IL-6 on TMEV infection are enough to create a pro-inflammatory environment that interferes with the immune response to infection. Because the early immune response shapes the later specific immune response to infection, impairment of the early response could account for the increased viral level, prolonged viral infection, increased CNS inflammation, and the subsequent exacerbation of the chronic autoimmune disease.

There is a growing body of evidence in both animal and human studies that suggests that exposure to stress can increase and sustain the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines following an assault on the immune system. Thus, the present findings might help scientists unravel which biobehavioral mechanisms offset the adverse health effects of chronic social stress in humans.

"Similar to mice exposed to repeated social defeat by an aggressive intruder, people exposed to chronic social conflict experience high levels of stress and consequent dysregulation of the immune system, thereby increasing vulnerability to infectious and autoimmune disease," said Meagher. "The cytokine response during chronic stress appears to play a key role in exacerbating the acute CNS infection and the development of subsequent autoimmune responses."

Furthermore, interventions that prevented or reversed the stress-induced increases in IL-6 in the mouse model may have implications for humans, said Meagher. It is possible that the adverse effects of social conflict on people who are vulnerable to certain inflammatory diseases may be prevented or reversed by treatments aimed at blocking increases in this cytokine. Recent evidence suggests that some potential interventions include certain anti-inflammatory drugs, exercise, antidepressant medication, omega-3 fatty acids, and mindfulness relaxation training. However, human clinical trials are needed to fully evaluate this issue.

Presentation: "Severe or Traumatic Stress and Inflammation in Multiple Sclerosis," Mary W. Meagher, PhD, Texas A&M University, Session 1157 -- Symposium: Traumatic Stress, Cardiovascular Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, and Neurodegenerative Disease, August 17, 2007

Now, I'm certainly NOT saying my EX was an "older aggressive rat", but...well...maybe I should just stop with the analogy while I'm ahead!!!

At any rate, it's nice to see science finally catching up with what we MSers already innately know. I don't suggest we should all run out and quit our jobs, get divorces out of stressful relationships, or sell our children to the circus, but it might pay off to really take a close look at what is stressful in our lives and try to eliminate that *stress* as much as possible.

And if you have fate chance of running into an "older aggressive rat", I'd say run the other way fast! Unless, of course, running causes you MORE stress...LOL


Sharon said...

I love this post. I agree with you. I have an EX also. Sad thing is he isn't completely out of my life, we have a son together. Now what? When he acts up with my boy is when I have the most flare ups.He SUCKS! I have a great guy now.

Sara said...

I can't believe you just made me read "work" on a Sunday, BAD GIRL!!! No really that is very interesting, tomorrow I'm going to be checking out IL-6 levels in my infection model - will have to pass this article along to my coworkers, cheers my dear, xx

Peej said...

This just confirms my long held belief that all of our ex's should be lined up and shot at dawn. lol

Hope you're feeling ok. I've been looking for you at the crack of dawn but your cat must've turned off the sound again... you're never there! :)


harkoo said...

Thanks for giving us the scientific words that give explanation to what i always knew was true. I am sorry if I depress people, but I will mention that for some of us ladies the tracts in our brains were laid down as children when we were having to deal with monster fathers. I would hazard a guess that some of women with MS have endured some form of sexual abuse which sets up the dynamic that will make us always pick the creeps to marry. Evil begets evil. I would like to see the statistics to that phenomenon. I am happy to be alone and free now. And i am sure my mother got MS because she married my dad. My father is now diagnosed with early alzeimers. I am in total control now of him and i am choosing to show him mercy as my final spiritual statement to myself.

Bubbie said...

I have been asked, "what have you learned from your illness?" My answer then and now is the same. I learned to say NO. No to aggresive and toxic people in my life. Too bad I had to get sick to learn it.

mdmhvonpa said...

Hmmm, now just add Heat, Diet and Lifestyle research ... I wonder who is funding these grants.



Just like a spicy Mexican meal...right when you think you've passed the heartburn, GERD wakes you up at 3:00AM!!!! EX's....humphf...LOL




Ah...I'm certainly glad YOU know what you're talking about with all that scientific lingo! And also glad YOU are working on some of these new discoveries...





Why must we wait for the crack of dawn when there is ample opportunity under the guise of night?!? I'm just sayin'...LOL

I've been on a dayshift bender this past week...and with ROIDS on top of that, I'm just not able to sit up much at the puter. But I WILL catch you soon, my friend!




I definitely really DO believe there is some major connection with MS/stress/past trauma experiences (and I secretly DO think my past relationship(s) played a major role in my disease process). Besides, it's much easier for me to blame someone else rather than my own genetic failings...




Ain't that the truth!?! Just when we finally get the WISDOM to say "no", we get the disease from NOT saying "no" soon enough!

MS has certainly given me permission to ride the NO TRAIN, however...




REPUBLICANS, that's who!!!! Oh, wait...what was your question again?!? LOL