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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)
 
 
 

An endogenous pentapeptide acting as a sodium channel blocker in inflammatory autoimmune disorders of the central nervous system.

Reversible blockade of sodium channels by endogenous substances has been claimed to account for the fast exacerbations and relapses commonly seen in demyelinating autoimmune diseases. Evidence has been provided that in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barré syndrome, a sodium-channel-blocking factor exists that has properties of local anesthetic agents. This factor could contribute to the nerve conduction block and paresis seen in these disorders. We describe here a previously unknown endogenous substance in human cerebrospinal fluid with distinct channel-blocking properties even at very low (0.00001 M) concentrations. The pentapeptide with the sequence Gln-Tyr-Asn-Ala-Asp exerted its blocking action by shifting the steady-state inactivation curve of the sodium channels to more-negative potentials, as most local anesthetics do. In the cerebrospinal fluid of healthy individuals, its concentration was about 3 microM, whereas in patients with multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barré syndrome, it increased 300-1,400%. At these concentrations, the peptide's blocking efficacy was higher than that of 50 microM lidocaine. At a concentration of 10 microM, lidocaine is able to 'unmask' subclinical lesions in multiple sclerosis; thus, the endogenous pentapeptide may well contribute to the fast changes of symptoms. Furthermore, it may become valuable as a marker of disease activity.[1]

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