What Is the Myelin Sheath and How Is It Involved in MS?
This important nerve covering holds the key to understanding the disease.
Neurologist Lauren B. Krupp, M.D., director of NYU Langone’s Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center in New York City, explains the role of the myelin sheath in people with multiple sclerosis.
The myelin sheath is the target of the immune attack in MS. The myelin sheath is composed of proteins and fats or lipids, and it protects the nerve, or the axon. The myelin sheath probably is a supportive coating. It probably has a. variety of protective functions. It may have a role even in nutrition.
When it's stripped away from the nerve, the nerve becomes more vulnerable to injury. Fortunately, one of the things about how MS differs from some other neurological conditions, is that people can remyelinate and repair the damage to the myelin. The recovery phase following a clinical event is probably, among other things, processes involving repair, remyelination, decrease of inflammation.
But over time, if repeated attacks of loss of myelin occur, then the repair doesn't happen and the nerve is vulnerable to a variety of factors that can lead to injury.