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Brain. 2007 May;130(Pt 5):1254-62. Epub 2007 Feb 9.

Autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation fails to stop demyelination and neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Neuropathology, Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany.


The present study analyses autopsy material from five multiple sclerosis patients who received autologous stem cell transplantation. A total of 53 white matter lesions were investigated using routine and immunohistochemical stainings to characterize the demyelinating activity, inflammatory infiltrates, acutely damaged axons and macrophages/microglial cells. We found evidence for ongoing active demyelination in all of the five patients. The inflammatory infiltrate within the lesions showed only very few T cells and CD8+ cytotoxic T cells dominated the T cell population. B cells and plasma cells were completely absent from the lesions. High numbers of acutely damaged axons were found in active lesion areas. Tissue injury was associated with activated macrophages/microglial cells. The present results indicate that ongoing demyelination and axonal degeneration exist despite pronounced immunosuppression. Our data parallel results from some of the clinical phase I/II studies showing continued clinical disease progression in multiple sclerosis patients with high expanded disability system scores despite autologous stem cell transplantation.

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