Sometimes an MS study grabs you... with its tentacles. -D

When an octopus has MS: Application of neurophysiology and immunology of octopuses for multiple sclerosis

Abdorreza Naser Moghadasi


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated disease which can cause different symptoms due to the involvement of different regions of the central nervous system (CNS). Although this disease is characterized by the demyelination process, the most important feature of the disease is its degenerative nature. This nature is clinically manifested as progressive symptoms, especially in patientsí walking, which can even lead to complete debilitation. Therefore, finding a treatment to prevent the degenerative processes is one of the most important goals in MS studies. To better understand the process and the effect of drugs, scientists use animal models which mostly consisting of mouse, rat, and monkey.

In evolutionary terms, octopuses belong to the invertebrates which have many substantial differences with vertebrates. One of these differences is related to the nervous system of these organisms, which is divided into central and peripheral parts. The difference lies in the fact that the main volume of this system expands in the limbs of these organisms instead of their brain. This offers a kind of freedom of action and processing strength in the octopus limbs. Also, the brain of these organisms follows a non-somatotopic model. Although the complex actions of this organism are stimulated by the brain, in contrast to the human brain, this activity is not related to a specific region of the brain; rather the entire brain area of the octopus is activated during a process. Indeed, the brain mapping or the topological perception of a particular action, such as moving the limbs, reflects itself in how that activity is distributed in the octopus brain neurons. Accordingly, various actions are known with varying degrees of activity of neurons in the brain of octopus. Another important feature of octopuses is their ability to regenerate defective tissues including the central and peripheral nervous system.

These characteristics raise the question of what features can an octopus show when it is used as an organism to create experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Can the immune system damage of the octopus brain cause a regeneration process? Will the autonomy of the organs reduce the severity of the symptoms?

This article seeks to provide evidence to prove that use of octopuses as laboratory samples for generation of EAE may open up new approaches for researchers to better approach MS.