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J Neuroinflammation. 2013 Jan 15;10:8. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-10-8.

The history of neuromyelitis optica.

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Division of Molecular Neuroimmunology, Department of Neurology, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 450, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.


The discovery of a novel serum autoantibody (termed NMO-IgG or AQP4-Ab) in a subset of patients in 2004 has revived interest in neuromyelitis optica (NMO). While the history of classical multiple sclerosis has been extensively studied, only little is known about the history of NMO. In the present article, we provide a comprehensive review of the early history of this rare but intriguing syndrome. We trace the origins of the concept of NMO in the 19th century medical literature and follow its evolution throughout the 20th and into the 21st century. Finally, we discuss recent proposals to revise the concept of NMO and explain why there is indeed a need for a more systematic and descriptive nomenclature.

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