Multiple sclerosis in the gray area
In multiple sclerosis, immune cells damage the nerve connections in the white matter of the brain. But that is only half the truth: the cell bodies of the neurons in the gray matter are also attacked.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a genetic autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the nerve cells in the brain. The disease is usually diagnosed in the early stages. In the relapsing-remitting form, patients go through phases with symptoms such as impaired vision and balance or paralysis, which then subside again. This clinical picture can be well researched using animal models. On the other hand, doctors still know very little about the factors that determine the course of the disease in the advanced progressive form - in which the physical disabilities gradually worsen. Insights into this late stage of the disease would be needed to better treat the underlying causes.
It has been proven with certainty that T cells and macrophages trigger the inflammatory reactions in relapsing remitting MS. These immune cells damage the brain's white matter, which contains the nerve fibers that make up neurons, called axons. Their attack is directed against myelin, a mixture of lipids and proteins that encases the nerve fibers in the white matter, thereby insulating and protecting them.
The gradually increasing destruction in the progressive phase that often follows takes place primarily in the gray matter of the brain, in which the cell bodies of the neurons with the cell nuclei are located…