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To determine whether unmyelinated nerve fibers escape degeneration as one might expect in an immune response exclusively directed at myelin, we performed a morphometric examination of unmyelinated axons and myelinated nerve fibers in sural nerve biopsy specimens of 14 patients with a chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) and of 12 age-matched normal controls. The numbers of unmyelinated axons, myelinated nerve fibers, denervated Schwann cell units and collagen pockets were quantified and related to the clinical and electrophysiological data of the patients with CIDP. In 4 patients with a rapid onset of the neuropathy and a highly elevated CSF protein, the numbers of both unmyelinated axons and myelinated nerve fibers were decreased equally. In 8 patients we found that the unmyelinated axons were relatively spared compared with the loss of myelinated nerve fibers. In these patients, however, the presence of denervated Schwann cell units and of collagen pockets was increased. We conclude that unmyelinated nerve fibers are affected in patients with CIDP.
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Document Type: Abstract

Affiliations: Acta Neuropathologica 99: 571–578, 2000. Reprinted with permission from Springer Verlag.

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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