Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep 2003 May;3(3):231-7
Department of Neurology, Ohio State University, Room 449 Means Hall, 1654 Upham Drive, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.
The pivotal role of axons in the pathophysiology and pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) is increasingly becoming the focus of our attention.
Axonal injury, considered at one time to be a late phenomenon, is now recognized as an early occurrence in the inflammatory lesions of MS.
There is converging evidence from histopathologic, as well as magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies, that axons play a crucial and dynamic role during the evolution of MS pathology and the development of clinical disability.
It has been repeatedly demonstrated that neurologic functional impairment correlates best with axonal, rather than myelin, injury.
The pathophysiology of axonal injury remains speculative.
Although generally considered to be sequelae of demyelination, it is possible that axonal injury in MS is indeed a primary event.
The discovery that axonal injury can be reversible has provided an impetus to institute early therapy.
The finding that irreversible axonal transection occurs in early lesions has underscored now, more than ever before, the need to curtail inflammation and the need to institute early treatment with disease-modifying agents.
The axon will undoubtedly remain the focus of our attention regarding research on MS now and in the future.