Pathology of demyelinating diseases

Annu Rev Pathol. 2012;7:185-217. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pathol-011811-132443.


There has been significant progress in our understanding of the pathology and pathogenesis of central nervous system inflammatory demyelinating diseases. Neuropathological studies have provided fundamental new insights into the pathogenesis of these disorders and have led to major advances in our understanding of multiple sclerosis (MS) heterogeneity, the substrate of irreversible progressive disability in MS, the relationship between inflammation and neurodegeneration in MS, the neuroimaging correlates of MS lesions, and the pathogenesis of other central nervous system inflammatory disorders, including neuromyelitis optica, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, and Balo's concentric sclerosis. Herein, we review the pathological features of these central nervous system inflammatory demyelinating disorders and discuss neuropathological studies that have yielded novel insights into potential mechanisms involved in the formation of the demyelinated lesion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Demyelinating Diseases / immunology
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology*
  • Diffuse Cerebral Sclerosis of Schilder / immunology
  • Diffuse Cerebral Sclerosis of Schilder / pathology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Acute Disseminated / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / immunology
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / pathology