Assessing the damage of the Blood Brain Barrier in Multiple Sclerosis

The blood-brain barrier protects the brain from harmful substances. This barrier consists of cells that form the blood vessels of the brain. In people with multiple sclerosis (MS), this barrier gets damaged. Imagine it as tiny holes in a fence that surrounds your brain. These holes let immune cells and other toxic substances sneak into the brain tissue, causing inflammation and damage to nerve cells. In MS, these infiltrating immune cells mistakenly attack the nerve fibers, leading to MS symptoms like fatigue, problems with speaking, cognition and movement. Researchers are studying ways to repair this leaky fence to prevent the entry of the immune cells and thus stopping brain inflammation.

In our research we use the brain tissue of people who have died of MS and of healthy donors. We isolate the blood vessels from this tissue so that we can examine the blood-brain barrier. These isolated blood vessels are examined with a technique called proteomics, where all the proteins of the blood-brain barrier are measured. Using this technique, we aim to understand the regulation of proteins in MS on a large scale. This way, we can determine whether the blood-brain barrier of MS patients is altered compared to healthy people. Our preliminary results do not show any differences, which could indicate that in this group of donors, the blood-brain barrier is not changed.

Written by AmsterdamUMC