Axonal and neuronal pathology in multiple sclerosis: what have we learnt from animal models

Exp Neurol. 2010 Sep;225(1):2-8. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2009.10.009. Epub 2009 Oct 17.


Axonal and neuronal injury and loss are of critical importance for permanent clinical disability in multiple sclerosis patients. Axonal injury occurs already early during the disease and accumulates with disease progression. It is not restricted to focal demyelinated lesions in the white matter, but also affects the normal appearing white matter and the grey matter. Experimental studies show that many different immunological mechanisms may lead to axonal and neuronal injury, including antigen-specific destruction by specific T-cells and auto-antibodies as well as injury induced by products of activated macrophages and microglia. They all appear to be relevant for multiple sclerosis pathogensis in different patients and at different stages of the disease. However, in MS lesions a major mechanism of axonal and neuronal damage appears to be related to the action of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, which may induce neuronal injury through impairment of mitochondrial function and subsequent energy failure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / immunology
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Axons / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / immunology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / metabolism
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / pathology*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / immunology
  • Nerve Degeneration / metabolism
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Neurons / immunology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology*