A recent study (Rossi et al. Exercise attenuates the clinical, synaptic and dendritic abnormalities of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Neurobiol Dis 2009 Jul 7) seems to suggest that exercise may be beneficial in slowing progression of multiple sclerosis.
The investigators induced a multiple sclerosis-like disease in mice by administration of peptides derived from the myelin protein called myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) and induced the mice to undergo voluntary running in a wheel.
Voluntary exercise decreased progression of disease, and overall severity, as compared to control animals. Furthermore, the inflammation-associated suppression of GABA synapse stimulation by cannabinoid CB1 receptors, that is associated with the animal model of multiple sclerosis was inhibited as a result of exercise. Additionally, exercise effectively reduced dendritic spine loss induced by by the multiple sclerosis-like disease in striatal neurons.
Exercise has been demonstrated to induce insulin like growth factor (IGF)-1 expression in certain cell types in response to mechanical motion, as well as growth hormone administration. It is interesting to note that IGF-1 stimulates production of new myelin, as well protects the animal model of multiple sclerosis from disease (Yao et al. Insulin-like growth factor-I given subcutaneously reduces clinical deficits, decreases lesion severity and upregulates synthesis of myelin proteins in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Life Sci 1996;58(16):1301-6). So it would be interesting to see if exercise, along with vitamins and stem cells may be syngergistic in treatment of multiple sclerosis.