Grey matter damage in multiple sclerosis: a pathology perspective

Prion. 2013 Jan-Feb;7(1):66-75. doi: 10.4161/pri.23499. Epub 2013 Jan 1.


Over the past decade, immunohistochemical studies have provided compelling evidence that gray matter (GM) pathology in multiple sclerosis (MS) is extensive. Until recently, this GM pathology was difficult to visualize using standard magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques. However, with newly developed MRI sequences, it has become clear that GM damage is present from the earliest stages of the disease and accrues with disease progression. GM pathology is clinically relevant, as GM lesions and/or GM atrophy were shown to be associated with MS motor deficits and cognitive impairment. Recent autopsy studies demonstrated significant GM demyelination and microglia activation. However, extensive immune cell influx, complement activation and blood-brain barrier leakage, like in WM pathology, are far less prominent in the GM. Hence, so far, the cause of GM damage in MS remains unknown, although several plausible underlying pathogenic mechanisms have been proposed. This paper provides an overview of GM damage in MS with a focus on its topology and histopathology.

Keywords: clinical relevance; grey matter pathology; imaging; multiple sclerosis; topology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atrophy / complications
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / complications
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*