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Br Med Bull. 2010;95:79-104. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldq017. Epub 2010 Jul 4.

Multiple sclerosis: a practical overview for clinicians.

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Department of Neurology, Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the commonest disabling neurological condition to afflict young adults and therefore has a high social burden. Over several decades, there has been a considerable progress in the understanding of the disease pathogenesis as well as in the clinical management of MS patients. The emphasis in managing MS patients has shifted to multidisciplinary teams working in specialist groups. A review of the literature was conducted using MedLine to identify recent advances in MS. The current consensus is that MS is an autoimmune disease triggered by environmental agents acting in genetically susceptible people. Based on that concept, new methods of immune intervention procedures have been introduced into clinical practice. Licensed first-line disease-modifying therapies reduce the MS attack or relapse rate by a third and delaying short-term disease progression. More effective therapies have emerged; however, these are associated with increased risks. New clinical and pathological insights are making us question the aetiology and pathogenesis of MS. The recognition of pathological heterogeneity has raised the question of whether MS is a single disease entity or a syndrome. Recent evidence suggests that the pathological subtype may predict therapeutic response to specific therapies. A new novel auto-antibody has defined a subset of neuromyelitis optica or Devic's disease as being distinct from MS. This is an attractive concept that is not widely accepted. The observation that MS progresses despite immunosuppressive therapy suggests that MS may be a neurodegenerative disease with overlapping immune activation possibly in response to the release of central nervous system auto-antigens. The development of neuroprotective therapies for MS is required to prevent the devastating effects of long-term disability as a result of progressive disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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