Multiple sclerosis is referred to as an autoimmune disease. The general theory for the development of MS is that a genetically damaged immune system is unable to distinguish between virus proteins and the body’s own myelin and so produces antibodies that attack. In other words, the body becomes allergic to itself, a condition known as autoimmunity.
Autoimmunity may develop when the body's immune system is damaged by genetic or environmental factors or both, causing it to attack its own tissues. In the case of MS, the immune system attacks the tissues that make up myelin:
•Myelin is made from layers of cell membranes that are produced in the brain and spinal cord by specialized cells called oligodendrocytes. The destruction of this myelin sheath during the disease process is the hallmark for multiple sclerosis.
•The myelin coat is distributed in segments along the axons, the long filaments that carry electric impulses away from a nerve cell.
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