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      Effects of Fumaric Acids on Cuprizone Induced Central Nervous System De- and Remyelination in the Mouse

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          Fumaric acid esters (FAE) are a group of compounds which are currently under investigation as an oral treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. One of the suggested modes of action is the potential of FAE to exert a neuroprotective effect.

          Methodology/Principal Findings

          We have investigated the impact of monomethylfumarate (MMF) and dimethylfumaric acid (DMF) on de- and remyelination using the toxic cuprizone model where the blood-brain-barrier remains intact and only scattered T-cells and peripheral macrophages are found in the central nervous system (CNS), thus excluding the influence of immunomodulatory effects on peripheral immune cells. FAE showed marginally accelerated remyelination in the corpus callosum compared to controls. However, we found no differences for demyelination and glial reactions in vivo and no cytoprotective effect on oligodendroglial cells in vitro. In contrast, DMF had a significant inhibitory effect on lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced nitric oxide burst in microglia and induced apoptosis in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC).


          These results contribute to the understanding of the mechanism of action of fumaric acids. Our data suggest that fumarates have no or only little direct protective effects on oligodendrocytes in this toxic model and may act rather indirectly via the modulation of immune cells.

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          Most cited references 29

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          The neurotoxicant, cuprizone, as a model to study demyelination and remyelination in the central nervous system.

          Myelin of the adult CNS is vulnerable to a variety of metabolic, toxic, and autoimmune insults. That remyelination can ensue, following demyelinating insult, has been well demonstrated. Details of the process of remyelination are, however difficult to ascertain since in most experimental models of demyelination/remyelination the severity, localization of lesion site, or time course of the pathophysiology is variable from animal to animal. In contrast, an experimental model in which massive demyelination can be reproducibly induced in large areas of mouse brain is exposure to the copper chelator, cuprizone, in the diet. We review work from several laboratories over the past 3 decades, with emphasis on our own recent studies, which suggest an overall picture of cellular events involved in demyelination/remyelination. When 8 week old C57BL/6 mice are fed 0.2% cuprizone in the diet, mature olidgodendroglia are specifically insulted (cannot fulfill the metabolic demand of support of vast amounts of myelin) and go through apoptosis. This is closely followed by recruitment of microglia and phagoctytosis of myelin. Studies of myelin gene expression, coordinated with morphological studies, indicate that even in the face of continued metabolic challenge, oligodendroglial progenitor cells proliferate and invade demyelinated areas. If the cuprizone challenge is terminated, an almost complete remyelination takes place in a matter of weeks. Communication between different cell types by soluble factors may be inferred. This material is presented in the context of a model compatible with present data -- and which can be tested more rigorously with the cuprizone model. The reproducibility of the model indicates that it may allow for testing of manipulations (e.g. available knockouts or transgenics on the common genetic background, or pharmacological treatments) which may accelerate or repress the process of demyelination and or remyelination.
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            Efficacy and safety of oral fumarate in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase IIb study.

            Oral fumarate (BG00012) might have dual anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. Our aim was to assess the efficacy and safety of BG00012 in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. 257 patients, aged 18-55 years, with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis were randomly assigned to receive 120 mg once daily (n=64), 120 mg three times daily (n=64), or 240 mg three times daily (n=64) BG00012, or placebo (n=65) for 24 weeks. During an extension period of 24 weeks for safety assessment, patients treated with placebo received BG00012 240 mg three times daily. The primary endpoint was total number of new gadolinium enhancing (GdE) lesions on brain MRI scans at weeks 12, 16, 20, and 24. Additional endpoints included cumulative number of new GdE lesions (weeks 4-24), new or enlarging T2-hyperintense lesions, new T1-hypointense lesions at week 24, and annualised relapse rate. Analysis was done on the efficacy-evaluable population. Safety and tolerability were also assessed. This study is registered with, number NCT00168701. Treatment with BG00012 240 mg three times daily reduced by 69% the mean total number of new GdE lesions from week 12 to 24 compared with placebo (1.4 vs 4.5, p<0.0001). It also reduced number of new or enlarging T2-hyperintense (p=0.0006) and new T1-hypointense (p=0.014) lesions compared with placebo. BG00012 reduced annualised relapse rate by 32% (0.44 vs 0.65 for placebo; p=0.272). Adverse events more common in patients given BG00012 than in those given placebo included abdominal pain, flushing, and hot flush. Dose-related adverse events in patients on BG00012 were headache, fatigue, and feeling hot. The anti-inflammatory effects and favourable safety profile of BG00012 warrant further long-term phase III studies in large patient groups.
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              Fumaric acid esters are effective in chronic experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and suppress macrophage infiltration.

              Fumaric acid esters (FAE) have proven their therapeutic efficacy in psoriasis, a Th1 mediated skin disease. More recently, preliminary data have suggested an activity in multiple sclerosis (MS) as well. To investigate further possible mechanisms of action of these compounds in inflammatory diseases, we studied the FAE methyl hydrogen fumarate (MHF) and dimethyl fumarate (DMF) in chronic experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) induced by immunization of C57BL/6 mice with MOG peptide aa 35-55. Preventive treatment with these FAE was delivered twice a day by oral gavage. Both esters had a significant therapeutic effect on the disease course and histology showed a strongly reduced macrophage inflammation in the spinal cord. Multiparameter cytokine analysis from blood detected an increase of IL-10 in the treated animals. We conclude that the underlying biological activity of FAE in EAE is complex and, to elucidate the molecular mechanisms, further investigation is needed.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                23 July 2010
                : 5
                : 7
                [1 ]Department of Neurology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
                [2 ]Center for Systems Neuroscience, Hannover, Germany
                Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: DMK MS. Performed the experiments: DMK AB TS EM AK VG. Analyzed the data: DMK AB TS EM AK VG MS. Wrote the paper: DMK TS MS.

                Moharregh-Khiabani et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 8
                Research Article
                Neuroscience/Neurobiology of Disease and Regeneration
                Neuroscience/Neuronal and Glial Cell Biology
                Neurological Disorders/Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders



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