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Multiple sclerosis disrupts the
central nervous system

Multiple sclerosis (MS) causes the body’s immune system to attack the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

The central nervous system and MS

  • The brain, optic nerves, and spine communicate with each other, and then the brain tells the body how to move, think, and talk
  • When MS damages the CNS, it disrupts communication between the brain and body
  • These disruptions in communication can lead to MS symptoms

Central Nervous System

Central nervous system scheme

A closer look

Nerve cells in the CNS communicate with each other by way of axons (which work like wires connecting one nerve cell to the next).

Axons have a protective coating around them called myelin.

Nerve Cell

Process of nerve cell damage by MS

MS causes the immune system to “attack” the myelin, creating damaging lesions within the CNS. This damage keeps the nerve cells from communicating as they are meant to. Therefore, the CNS can’t function properly.

Chain break icon

Lesion activity leads
to communication breakdowns
in the CNS

Lesions can make it difficult for signals to get from the brain to the rest of the body. This “communication breakdown” can lead to both physical and cognitive changes.