SPINMS.CA | How MS Affects Neurons
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How MS Affects Neurons

How MS Affects Neurons

Nerve cells, also called neurons, are the core component of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system. Neurons send and receive information in the form of electrical signals throughout the body. An axon is part of a neuron and some of them are covered by myelin. Myelin is a white fatty substance around the axon. Axons are like electrical wires and the myelin sheath is like the rubber coating around them. It allowsnerve impulses to be continuously transmittedbetween the central nervous system and the rest of the body.


Scientists believe that MS occurs when certain immune cells, called T-cells, in your body attack the myelin sheath. The destruction of the myelin sheath disrupts the speed and strength of electrical signals passed between neurons. The signal disruption may result in MS symptoms and disabilities.

Normal Neuron

Full Transmission

The myelin sheats helps increase the speed of signals across neurons. An olygodendrocyte is the type of brain cell that produces myelin. Parts of the olygodendrocyte reach out and wrap around the nerve cell, coating it in protective myelin.

affected neuron

Inflammation from relapse

During as MS relapse, the myelin sheats is inflamed and may result in a slower than normal transmission of signals. Disrupted signals may also result in MS symptoms.

affected neuron

Damaged myelin

The myelin sheath of a neuron (axon) can recover and remyelinate the neuron following a relapse. Sometimes the myelin sheath cannot be completely repaired and this can result in slower transmission signals.

Affected neuron

Partial or no transmission

Repeated attacks on neurons can cause permanent damage and decreased ability to transmit signals.