Salt consumption controls autoimmune disease

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry show that increased salt consumption has no negative effect on disease progression but is rather beneficial in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the nervous system. In this autoimmune disease, the myelin sheath of the nerve cells is attacked by the patient's own immune system. Several animal models are available to study the disease. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have now been able to show, contrary to the results of other studies, that moderately increased salt consumption in mice has no negative effect on the course of the disease. In transgenic mice that develop spontaneous MS-like disease, increased salt consumption led to a suppression of the disease. This study was published in the journal PNAS.

Sodium chloride, table salt, is an essential mineral that we must consume for a healthy life. However, excessive salt consumption is one of the known health risks, as it has been linked to cardiovascular and kidney diseases. Researchers are also interested in understanding the effect of excessive salt consumption in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as MS. Therefore, an animal model of multiple sclerosis called Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE) has been used in the past to study the effect of excessive salt consumption. It has been reported that it leads to exacerbation of the disease.

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