Review: the architecture of inflammatory demyelinating lesions: implications for studies on pathogenesis

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2011 Dec;37(7):698-710. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2990.2011.01189.x.


Recent technological advances provided the chance to analyse the molecular events involved in the pathogenesis of lesions in human disease. A major prerequisite for such studies is, however, that the pathological material used is exactly defined and characterized. In multiple sclerosis (MS), this is difficult, as several types of active lesions exist, depending upon the stage of the disease, the age and location of these lesions and the inter-individual differences between patients. In addition, within an active lesion, different closely adjacent zones are present reflecting initial tissue injury, debris removal or repair. Here evidence is reviewed, showing that distinct subareas of active MS lesions reflect different pathological hallmarks of lesion evolution. These data provide the basis for our understanding of the pathogenesis of tissue injury in MS and imply that studies on MS pathogenesis have to rely on a clear definition of the lesions analysed and have to focus on specific lesion areas, isolated by microdissection. In addition, these data also imply that molecules, identified in these studies, must be confirmed and validated in the correct context of lesion initiation and/or progression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Microglia / pathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Oligodendroglia / pathology*