Results of a study into MS and poor blood circulation in the brain, or chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CSSVI), revisited a decades-old theory that abnormal blood flow in the brain might play a key role in nervous system damage. Paolo Zamboni, MD, and his team at the University of Ferrara in Italy, used sonography to detect abnormalities in vein drainage from the brain to the heart in 65 people with MS. They compared the results with those of 235 people who were either healthy or who had other neurological disorders.
Dr. Zamboni and team found that many of the people with MS showed evidence of slowed or obstructed drainage in veins running from the brain to the heart. They also found blood flow being rerouted to smaller vessels, some of which actually reversed flow back into the brain. In the report, which was published in the June 2009 issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, the authors suggest that it may be this reverse flow that sets off the inflammation and immune-system response in MS.
|Dr. Paolo Zamboni, study leader|
In a collaborative study now getting under way among researchers in Italy and the United States, 16 people with CSSVI are being experimentally treated with balloon dilation, which has been used to treat blocked arteries.
What do the findings mean?
If confirmed, the results of the Italian study may lead to new research into the underlying causes of MS. But many questions still remain. There is not yet enough evidence to say that CSSVI causes MS, at what stage in the disease it happens, or whether therapies aimed at improving blood drainage would be safe or beneficial.
More information and facts about the study
Read the original report