The Corpus Callosum

Prolactin and Multiple Sclerosis

Scientific American makes note of a new finding regarding multiple
sclerosis, first reported in The Journal of Neuroscience.

One of the big shifts in our understanding of brain structure and
function, over the past decade or so, has been our improved
understanding of the process of neurogenesis
in adults.  It is more more common than had been assumed
previously.  It turns out that neurons are not the only brain
cells that change in such dynamic ways.  New neuroglia
can be generated as well.

This is potentially important to the pathophysiology of demyelinating
illnesses such as MS.  Since myelin is produced by
oligodendrocytes, it is conceivable that creating more oligodendrocytes
could alleviate the disease.

The investigators in the study were investigating the observation that
MS often improves during pregnancy.  At first, they thought
this probably was due to changes in the immune system.  They
developed mouse models to investigate this.  What they found
was a complete surprise.

Surge During Pregnancy Repairs Faulty Brain Signaling

New study finds that the release of prolactin
strengthens neuron insulation, which could one day help reduce the
effects of multiple sclerosis

By Nikhil Swaminathan

In what could give hope to the 2.5 million sufferers
of multiple sclerosis (MS) worldwide, a new study reports that the
hormone prolactin, the levels of which spike during pregnancy, mended
nerve damage in mice…

…”It was thought that during pregnancy, their immune systems no
longer destroyed the myelin,” says Samuel Weiss of Hotchkiss Brain
Institute in Calgary and co-author of the study published in The
Journal of Neuroscience. “No previous study has tested whether
pregnancy actually results in the production of new myelin, which may
explain [the] improvement of symptoms.”…

Through an elegant series of experiments, they developed strong
evidence to suggest that it is the increase in prolactin during
pregnancy that results in an increase in the number of
oligodendrocytes, and an increase in the amount of myelin produced.

Of course, this is still a long way from any potential clinical
application in humans, but still, it is a very encouraging finding.


  1. #1 stumpy
    February 28, 2007

    I’d like to know why the adjective “elegant” is so consistently paired w/ “study” when people are trying to praise methodology. Surely we can come up w/ some other adjectives that are less hackneyed and equally (or even more) descriptive. My God, I’m tired of “elegant”. Here are some alternatives: “deft”; “nicely designed”; “well thought out”; “pithy yet degenerate”; “face-lifted dowager”; “sedate but alert” — and I didn’t even use a thesaurus.

  2. #2 Joseph j7uy5
    February 28, 2007

    The word “elegant” serves a purpose. It covers up the fact that they had to cut the heads off a great many mice in order to come to this conclusion.

  3. #3 Robert Rafferty
    May 10, 2007

    I am certainly the the last one that would want to offend anyone. Yep, here it comes … BUT, Do you live with this disease on a daily basic, and I don’t mean through the eyes of others (or mouses). If not just look at it from our side. We stopped seeing the little negative things people do in everyday life and we started to notice those great little things people were doing for us without even nowing who we are. so to joseph j7uy5 let me say, I am sorry you were critisized for your post. To stumpy,you know you might find kindness under a ROCK, I of cource wouldn’t now but perhapes you could investigate and bring back you “elegant series of conclusion”

  4. #4 Samuel Shepherd
    May 13, 2007

    It’s time to immediately and ethically ask volunteers to participate in the prolactin trials.

    Let the people, who are taking the risk, choose their future. You have no right to withhold this potential.

    “Ignorance is terrible, failure to act is unforgivable”

  5. #5 Gayle Kroll
    December 28, 2011

    It makes sense to me if you read about prolactin that it does influence myelin. The next time I have a checkup at my general practioner I am going to have my prolactin level checked.

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