Multiple sclerosis: neuroimmunology

Anthony T Reder MD (

Dr. Reder of the University of Chicago served on advisory boards and as a consultant for Bayer, Biogen Idec, Caremark Rx, Genentech, Genzyme, Novartis, Mallinckrodt, Mylan, Serono, and Teva-Marion.

Originally released October 23, 2014; last updated July 18, 2017; expires July 18, 2020

This article includes discussion of neuroimmunology and multiple sclerosis. The foregoing terms may include synonyms, similar disorders, variations in usage, and abbreviations.

Key points


• Multiple sclerosis is caused by immune attack against brain cells.
• There is no known multiple sclerosis antigen.
• The primary damage is from demyelination and destruction of oligodendroglia, but axons and neurons are also damaged.
• Cortical lesions are difficult to see on MRI; cortical disruption affects cognition and multiple central nervous system (CNS) functions.
• Before any therapy, interferon-alpha/beta levels in serum and responses to interferon are low in multiple sclerosis but high in neuromyelitis optica.

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