Neuroimmunology Program - IDIBAPS

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis is a prevalent chronic disease affecting mostly young people and that can generate neurological sequelae affecting the quality of life.

HOW IS THE COURSE OF THE DISEASE?

Multiple Sclerosis disease onset usually occurs in young adults (between 20-30 years old) in its relapsing form. A relapse consists in paralysis of an arm or leg, loss of sensitivity, blurred or double vision or difficulties with coordination and balance during several weeks with a partial or full recovery after this. With the disease progression relapses can leave sequelae. There are patients with no relapses but a progressive form of the disease.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

In Multiple Sclerosis an autoimmune reaction occurs which is mediated by macrophages and lymphocytes crossing the blood brain barrier (BBB) due to unknown causes. This reaction can be visualized by magnetic resonance as different sclerotic plaques that give the name to the disease.

HOW IS THE DISEASE TREATED?

Fortunately, actually there are several possible treatments available that help to control relapses and to prevent sequelae. These treatments modulate the defenses and prevent inflammation. Some of the treatments can have secondary effects that require control. The most used therapies are Interferon beta, Glatiramer acetate, Natalizumab, Fingolimod, Teriflunomide, Fumarate and chemotherapy. These treatments can control the relapsing form of the disease, although sequelae and disease progression remain uncontrolled or not recovered. At the present time there is an important ongoing research activity working to develop new therapies to control disease progression and sequelae recovery.

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

Multiple Sclerosis is diagnosed due to its characteristic clinical course and using some diagnosis tools. The most important one is cerebral magnetic resonance, which allow us to visualize the brain lesions and see how many of them are inflamed. Resonance is a very sensitive tool to detect MS lesions. Other tools used to confirm MS diagnostic are:

  • 1) gammaglobulines and antibodies (oligoclonal bands) detection in the cerebrospinal fluid (obtained from lumbar puncture);
  • 2) visual, motor, sensitivity or auditory evoked potentials;
  • 3) optic coherence tomography, which is able to detect lesions in the optic nerve through the retina;
  • 4) a blood analysis, which allows discard other rheumatologic and infectious diseases