Two years ago I (Rajiv) went to the 2016 MS summer school in Vancouver Canada to start my endMS Scholar Program for Researchers IN Training (SPRINT) project. In this program, three trainees from different fields of research are brought together to work on one interdisciplinary project over the course of a year. My project was supervised by Dr. Ghasemlou from Queens University and focused on reviewing the literature surrounding circadian rhythms (how biological functions are altered over the course of a day/year) and their effects on MS pathology and psychosocial outcomes.
Overall, we found that the rhythmic release of hormones associated with circadian rhythms, melatonin and cortisol, are either blunted or amplified, respectively, in MS patients. These hormones are known to influence immune responses and are likely influencing MS pathology and may also contribute to psychosocial aspects of MS including fatigue, depression, and disability. Lastly, all of the currently approved MS drugs target some portion of the immune system that has an associated circadian rhythm. Thus, there is untapped potential in considering whether the timing of administration of our current drugs could be used to further amplify their efficacy.
This work was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. Overall, the SPRINT experience is rewarding and is definitely worth pursing for those who are motivated to work on a project with people outside of their own field. This is also a good opportunity to thank Dr. Nader Ghasemlou and his lab for their support in producing this publication as well as the other members of the SPRINT team, Dr. Kelvin Poon and Elisea De Somma as this could not have been completed without you!