Pathophysiology of multiple sclerosis

J Neurol. 2008 Dec;255 Suppl 6:2-6. doi: 10.1007/s00415-008-6001-2.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS). Both genetic and environmental causes for MS have been suggested. Recent genome-wide association studies revealed new susceptibility alleles for MS besides the HLA complex that are all related with immune functions. Whereas there is little evidence to support a purely environmental trigger for the disease in the sense of an infectious agent, the autoimmune hypothesis of MS is well established. Myelin antigen-specific CD4+ T cells become activated in the peripheral immune compartment, cross the blood-brain barrier and trigger the disease. Here, current concepts of the commitment of T cells to pro-inflammatory effector T helper cell lineages including Th17 cells that appear to be important inducers of organ-specific autoimmunity will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / genetics
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Myelin Sheath / immunology