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Optic Neuritis: A Model for the Immuno-pathogenesis of Central Nervous System Inflammatory Demyelinating Diseases

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Evidence for the tenuous regulation between the immune system and central nervous system (CNS) can be found with examples of interaction between these organ systems gone awry. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the prototypical inflammatory disease of the CNS and is characterized by widely distributed inflammatory demyelinating plaques that can involve the brain, spinal cord and/or optic nerves. Optic neuritis (ON), inflammatory injury of the optic nerve that frequently occurs in patients with MS, has been the focus of intense study in part given the readily accessible nature of clinical outcome measures. Exploring the clinical and pathological features of ON in relation to other inflammatory demyelinating conditions of the CNS, namely MS and neuromyelitis optica, provides an opportunity to glean common and distinct mechanisms of disease. Emerging data from clinical studies along with various animal models involving ON implicate innate and adaptive immune responses directed at glial targets, including myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein and aquaporin 4. Resolution of inflammation in ON is commonly observed both clinically and experimentally, but persistent nerve injury is also one emerging hallmark of ON. One hypothesis seeking evaluation is that, in comparison to other sites targeted in MS, the optic nerve is a highly specialized target within the CNS predisposing to unique immunologic processes that generate ON. Overall, ON serves as a highly relevant entity for understanding the pathogenesis of other CNS demyelinating conditions, most notably MS.
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Keywords: Demyelination; multiple sclerosis; neuro-immunology; optic neuritis; pathogenesis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2015

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  • Current Immunology Reviews publishes frontier reviews on all the latest advances in clinical immunology. The journal's aim is to publish the highest quality review articles dedicated to clinical research in the field. The journal is essential reading for all researchers and clinicians in clinical immunology.
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