A Computational Model including Role of NF-κB in Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune, neurodegenerative disease that cannot be cured. The disease causes the body’s own immune system to attack the axons of neurons, disrupting communication between the brain and the body. Those afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis slowly lose the ability to send signals down their axons. Consequently, they are no longer able to function or use those parts of their nervous system, and in many cases become immobile. The mechanism for axonal degradation is not properly understood, but a variety of pathways and factors have been discussed as contributing towards the degradation. NF-κB is a well-known transcription factor that can be cited as the “master switch” for immune response, and can be known to alter the behavior in immune cells’ response to injury and function. In the context of MS, NF-κB controls the macrophage phenotype that is expressed.


Through the use of CellDesigner and MATLAB a computational model for cells exhibiting the phenotypes found for MS can be created. Gathering values from published literature, interactions between various proteins, genes, and other cellular mechanisms can be shown within the model and programmed to show an output. These models provide immediate feedback and can give quantitative values about how a particular pathway might respond to an increase or decrease in the expression of a particular gene. The model is thus malleable, can be used to test the effects of various drugs, and can serve to advise groups working on clinical trials.