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Australian lipid study finds connection to multiple sclerosis disability

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Disability in those with multiple sclerosis (MS) can vary in different ways for the millions of people suffering from it all across the globe and no one had been able to figure out why. Researchers in Australia now believe they know why and they are accusing serum lipids and apolipoproteins in Wednesday’s ‘before print’ release of their study.

Lipids are molecules that include fats, waxes and vitamins like A, D, E and K and have been seen as playing a very important part in helping cells communicate. Serum lipids are defined as the blood fats that have influence on metabolism and apolipoproteins are the proteins that function as the carriers of lipids through the circulatory and lymphatic systems.

Blood samples were taken from 178 MS patients from southern Tasmania, Australia from 2002 to 2005 so that researchers could measure the patients’ lipid profiles and apolipoproteins levels. The patients’ blood was drawn at the beginning of the study and then again at the biannual reviews.

Along with taking blood samples, each patient was examined to see if there were any changes in their disability. Actual disease progression was looked at too but there was no mention of an MRI to measure lesions or plaques but they did use the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS).

The EDSS provides a way for doctors to score the levels of disability a patient has according to eight ‘functional systems’ and most MS patients have under gone the test at one time or another. The scale includes motor function, cerebellar (brain), brain stem, sensory, bowel and bladder, visual, mental and, what can be called a miscellaneous catch-all area; ‘other’.

After adjustments were made for cholesterol totals and body weights, they were able to see there were adverse lipid profiles according to disability. According to the researchers, “total cholesterol (TC) (p = 0.037), apolipoprotein B (ApoB) (p = 0.003), and the apolipoprotein B to apolipoprotein A-I ratio (ApoB/ApoA-I ratio) (p = 0.018) were independently associated with a higher EDSS.” [see abstract]

The next logical step would be to find ways to improve serum lipid levels and though there have been studies on working with adverse lipids, at this point there hasn’t been a pointed-in-this-direction kind of help and it is not sure when that could be happening. Especially since doctors still don’t have a strong line on what levels are clearly ‘good’ or ‘bad’; it might take awhile.

For more info: for those who live in Lima, Ohio (and Northwest Ohio) the Ohio Buckeye chapter can be reached at: 6155 Rockside Road, Suite 202 Independence, Ohio 44131 or at toll free phone number 1-800-344-4867.

Sources: Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale, Marsha L Tarver, PhD; Healthline.com; Published online before print May 14, 2014, doi: 10.1177/1352458514533162 Mult Scler May 14, 2014 1352458514533162; Proteins Move, Zimei Bu, David J.D. Callaway http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-381262-9.00005-7

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