Saturday, October 22, 2011

Womb twin surviviors and MS

 It is possible that people with MS are womb twin survivors. Why do I say that?


Muscular sclerosis is a condition where the nervous system gradually deteriorates, leading to a gradual loss of bodily function, because the individual nerve cells are being destroyed by the immune system. 

This article about MS and a twin study suggests that there is more to MS than genetics. 
Twin studies provide an opportunity to compare genetically identical siblings (identical twins) with twins who do not share identical genes (fraternal twins). If a disease is under genetic control, identical twins should both have MS more frequently than fraternal twins. The risk for developing MS in an unaffected fraternal twin is 2%, and the risk in an identical twin is 25-30%. These data strongly support the hypothesis that genetic factors play a significant role in disease susceptibility. However, they also point to a strong environmental influence because only a minority of genetically identical twins are both affected with MS.
This essay on MS lists some of the main symptoms and has some good links
MS is a demyelinating disease. Specifically, degeneration of myelin, a material that is composed mainly of fats and serves as an insulation for the nerves, much like the covering of an electric wire, degenerates. This fatty insulation allows a nerve to transmit its impulses with lightning-like speed, enabling people to move almost without thinking. The loss of this myelin insulation causes what is, in effect, a short-circuiting so that a person loses the ability to make smooth, rapid, and coordinated movements. With multiple sclerosis, the loss of myelin appears to the naked eye as a hardened sclerotic (scar) area. These areas are multiple within the central nervous system, thus the term multiple sclerosis.
 This year MS was proven to be an autoimmune disease.

Experts had previously debated whether MS is a degenerative disease that causes immune system inflammation but this research suggests it's the other way around, according to Compston - and that can guide future treatments.  "It is now clear that multiple sclerosis is primarily an immunological disease," Compston told Reuters. "This is the way to nail this disease and get on top of it."
The study was published in the August 11 issue of Nature.
Autoimmune diseases have been connected to microchimerism.  (Cells from the mother that pass the placenta into the fetus, and vice versa.) [See article here]
 Microchimerism, the persistence of foreign cells thought to derive from previous pregnancies, has been associated with autoimmune diseases
 Chimerism is also connected to being a womb twin survivor.

It looks like the immune system is trigger-happy,  because of the tissues  with  foreign DNA , and if all goes well an the immune system is strong then there is little or no reaction but when there is stress, the immune system is triggered.

All hypothetical of course on my part, but worth exploring.

The research is pointing towards a form of microchimerism that is not the same DNA as the mother's cells at all but from another source:
A fetal or maternal source was identified in all patients who tested positive by HLA-specific qPCR. Unexpectedly, a few RNs ( rheumatoid nodules) also contained Mc ( microchimerism) without evidence for a fetal or maternal source, suggesting alternative sources.
Dare we believe that this "source" of foreign cells is the vanished twin and that blood stem cells can pass from one twin to another? An eminent histologist once told me that this was possible...... At least one medical report suggests it directly....

More to discover,  but interesting so far!

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