Blood Pressure Drug May Help Treat MS
Study Shows Lisinopril Blocks Multiple Sclerosis in Lab Mice
Aug. 17, 2009 -- A drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure may also
double as a multiple sclerosis treatment.
A new study shows the inexpensive blood pressure drug lisinopril blocked
development of multiple sclerosis in laboratory mice bred to develop the
disease. And when the drug was given to mice with full-blown symptoms of
multiple sclerosis, it reversed their paralysis without affecting their overall
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease in which the body's immune
system malfunctions and can eventually lead to paralysis or even death. The
disease is difficult to treat without compromising normal immune function and
But researcher Lawrence Steinman, MD, of Stanford University says multiple
sclerosis and high blood pressure both involve inflammatory processes that may
benefit from treatment with lisinopril. If future studies confirm these
results, lisinopril may provide a less expensive treatment alternative for
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, examined the effects of treatment with lisinopril in mice bred to
develop brain lesions similar to those found in people with multiple sclerosis
after being given a disease-triggering chemical.
Researchers treated the mice with the equivalent dose of lisinopril used to
treat people with high blood pressure before and after the disease-triggering
The results showed mice treated with lisinopril before the injection did not
develop the paralysis related to MS. And those treated after the injection
experienced a reversal of their paralysis.
Researchers also found treatment with lisinopril reduced a number of
inflammation markers that accompany multiple sclerosis without affecting
overall immune function.
In addition, the study showed lisinopril treatment spurred proliferation of
an important class of immune cells known as regulatory T cells that help
prevent immune diseases.
Steinman says it's likely this proliferation is a key factor in protecting
the mice against multiple sclerosis and offers a new avenue for future research
in multiple sclerosis treatment.
"We were able to show that all the targets for lisinopril are there and
ready for therapeutic manipulation in the multiple-sclerosis lesions of human
patients," says Steinman, in a news release. "Without that, this would be just
another intriguing paper about what's possible in the mouse."
Steinman and authors Michael Platten, MD, and Sawsan Youssef, PhD call for
more studies to investigate the potential use of drugs like lisinopril for
treatment of MS.