Mechanisms of neurodegeneration shared between multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2011 May;118(5):747-52. doi: 10.1007/s00702-011-0607-8. Epub 2011 Mar 5.


Multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease are fundamentally different diseases. However, recent data suggest that certain mechanisms of neurodegeneration may be shared between the two diseases. Inflammation drives the disease in multiple sclerosis. It is also present in Alzheimer's disease lesions, where it may have dual functions in amyloid clearance as well as in the propagation of neurodegeneration. In both diseases, degeneration of neurons, axons, and synapses occur on the background of profound mitochondrial injury. Reactive oxygen and nitric oxide intermediates are major candidates for the induction of mitochondrial injury. Radicals are produced through the induction of the respiratory burst in activated microglia, which are present in the lesions of both diseases. In addition, liberation of toxic iron from intracellular stores may augment radical formation. Finally reactive oxygen species are also produced in the course of mitochondrial injury itself. Anti-oxidant and mitochondria protective therapeutic strategies may be beneficial both in multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease in particular in early stages of the disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / complications*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology*
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species