Axonal attenuation and secondary segmental demyelination in myeloma neuropathies

Ann Neurol. 1985 Mar;17(3):255-61. doi: 10.1002/ana.410170306.


The sural nerves of 5 patients with osteosclerotic myeloma and polyneuropathy, of 3 patients with multiple myeloma and polyneuropathy, and of 6 healthy subjects were studied by neuropathological, morphometric, and teased-fiber approaches to assess cellular (Schwann cell or axon) vulnerability and to explore the mechanism of segmental demyelination. As compared with controls, the nerves of both types of myeloma neuropathy demonstrated a statistically significant and marked loss of myelinated fibers and increased frequencies of axonal degeneration among teased fibers at statistically significant levels. The peaks of diameter histograms of myelinated fibers of osteosclerotic myeloma/polyneuropathy nerves were displaced to smaller diameter categories, suggesting fiber atrophy. Segmental demyelination and remyelination was clustered, as found in secondary demyelination. Large- and intermediate-diameter myelinated fibers of osteosclerotic myeloma/polyneuropathy nerves had significantly smaller axon calibers relative to myelin spiral length seen in electron micrographs. The loss of myelinated fiber axons, the shift of the peaks of diameter histograms to smaller sizes, the lack of noticeable increased numbers of demyelinated axons, the clustered distribution of segmental demyelination, and the axonal attenuation suggest a special axonal or neuronal vulnerability and appear to provide an explanation for the observed segmental demyelination. Whether axonal attenuation has a perikaryeal or proximal axonal genesis now needs to be determined.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Axons / pathology*
  • Bone Neoplasms / complications
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / etiology*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Myeloma / complications
  • Multiple Myeloma / pathology*
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology
  • Osteosclerosis / complications*
  • Peripheral Nerves / pathology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / pathology*
  • Plasmacytoma / complications
  • Plasmacytoma / pathology*