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      Progressive multiple sclerosis: from pathophysiology to therapeutic strategies

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          The relation between inflammation and neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis brains

          Some recent studies suggest that in progressive multiple sclerosis, neurodegeneration may occur independently from inflammation. The aim of our study was to analyse the interdependence of inflammation, neurodegeneration and disease progression in various multiple sclerosis stages in relation to lesional activity and clinical course, with a particular focus on progressive multiple sclerosis. The study is based on detailed quantification of different inflammatory cells in relation to axonal injury in 67 multiple sclerosis autopsies from different disease stages and 28 controls without neurological disease or brain lesions. We found that pronounced inflammation in the brain is not only present in acute and relapsing multiple sclerosis but also in the secondary and primary progressive disease. T- and B-cell infiltrates correlated with the activity of demyelinating lesions, while plasma cell infiltrates were most pronounced in patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) and primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) and even persisted, when T- and B-cell infiltrates declined to levels seen in age matched controls. A highly significant association between inflammation and axonal injury was seen in the global multiple sclerosis population as well as in progressive multiple sclerosis alone. In older patients (median 76 years) with long-disease duration (median 372 months), inflammatory infiltrates declined to levels similar to those found in age-matched controls and the extent of axonal injury, too, was comparable with that in age-matched controls. Ongoing neurodegeneration in these patients, which exceeded the extent found in normal controls, could be attributed to confounding pathologies such as Alzheimer's or vascular disease. Our study suggests a close association between inflammation and neurodegeneration in all lesions and disease stages of multiple sclerosis. It further indicates that the disease processes of multiple sclerosis may die out in aged patients with long-standing disease.
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            Cortical demyelination and diffuse white matter injury in multiple sclerosis.

            Focal demyelinated plaques in white matter, which are the hallmark of multiple sclerosis pathology, only partially explain the patient's clinical deficits. We thus analysed global brain pathology in multiple sclerosis, focusing on the normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) and the cortex. Autopsy tissue from 52 multiple sclerosis patients (acute, relapsing-remitting, primary and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis) and from 30 controls was analysed using quantitative morphological techniques. New and active focal inflammatory demyelinating lesions in the white matter were mainly present in patients with acute and relapsing multiple sclerosis, while diffuse injury of the NAWM and cortical demyelination were characteristic hallmarks of primary and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Cortical demyelination and injury of the NAWM, reflected by diffuse axonal injury with profound microglia activation, occurred on the background of a global inflammatory response in the whole brain and meninges. There was only a marginal correlation between focal lesion load in the white matter and diffuse white matter injury, or cortical pathology, respectively. Our data suggest that multiple sclerosis starts as a focal inflammatory disease of the CNS, which gives rise to circumscribed demyelinated plaques in the white matter. With chronicity, diffuse inflammation accumulates throughout the whole brain, and is associated with slowly progressive axonal injury in the NAWM and cortical demyelination.
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              Myelination and support of axonal integrity by glia.

              The myelination of axons by glial cells was the last major step in the evolution of cells in the vertebrate nervous system, and white-matter tracts are key to the architecture of the mammalian brain. Cell biology and mouse genetics have provided insight into axon-glia signalling and the molecular architecture of the myelin sheath. Glial cells that myelinate axons were found to have a dual role by also supporting the long-term integrity of those axons. This function may be independent of myelin itself. Myelin abnormalities cause a number of neurological diseases, and may also contribute to complex neuropsychiatric disorders.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Drug Discovery
                Nat Rev Drug Discov
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1474-1776
                1474-1784
                August 9 2019
                Article
                10.1038/s41573-019-0035-2
                31399729
                941b16f5-1500-480b-90ef-51e6619692be
                © 2019

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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