Pre-natal Stress and the Development of Multiple Sclerosis

Students: Rachel Chan, Stella Babatunde, Janet Poplawski

Type of Project: Basic, Mind and Body, Personalized Therapies

Grant Type: Undergraduate

Year of Award: 2016, 2017

Supervisor: Dr. Gerlinde Metz

Institution: University of Lethbridge

Background: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the nervous system causing widespread damage. This project proposes that pre-natal stress leads to early life programing though epigenetic mechanisms can lead one to be predisposed to MS, which will be tested in rat model of MS. Since this work is done on rats, one study is looking at how different metabolic markers correspond between the rats and people so that the advances made studying rats can more readily be used to impact people suffering from MS. 

Impact: Since there are a number of proven neuroCAM therapies for stress reduction, this study could validate the use of these in pregnant women as protective measures against MS. Furthermore, these studies will help us understand the epigenetic development of MS, which can help identify possible lifestyle interventions.