Another Supplement for Multiple Sclerosis

The road to a cure for MS is littered with failed supplements. Biotin is the most recent fatality.

The latest candidate is N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG), a building block of complex sugars and glycoproteins. It is a reasonably priced over-the-counter dietary supplement used to treat joint pain and inflammatory bowel disease, and to prevent cardiovascular disease. Two new studies by Drs Demetriou and Sy and others out of UC Irvine have generated excitement.

The first was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and concluded that, in rats, NAG promotes myelin repair by stimulating oligodendrocytes, a critical therapeutic goal. Prior studies demonstrated that, also in rats, NAG suppresses inflammatory T-cell responses in an MS-like disease when started after disease onset. T-cells attack myelin during attacks of MS.

The second, published in JAMA Neurology May 10, 2021, suggested that deficiency of NAG may be a biomarker for neurodegeneration in progressive MS. It looked at serum levels in healthy controls and MS patients. Levels were lower in progressive MS patients. Differences in relapsing patients were marginal. Importantly, levels seemed to correlate with disability, brain atrophy, and retinal nerve fiber loss.

Look for further studies.

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