Why is Multiple Sclerosis an Autoimmune Disease?
Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease. People suffering from this disease have damaged myelin sheaths surrounding the axons of nerve cells belonging to brain and spinal cord. This disease is common in young adults and occurs mostly in females. The communication between the nerve cells of brain and spinal cord is disturbed by multiple sclerosis disease. The nerve cells are comprised of axons which transmit the electrical signal that represents the nerve signal. The signal that travels in the nerve fibers to provide necessary information to the organ passes through axon of the nerve cell. The axons are covered by muscular sheath called myelin sheath. The multiple sclerosis is a condition where the myelin sheath is destroyed. The loss of myelin sheath will not allow the axon to properly transmit the signal.
Multiple sclerosis is called as autoimmune disease, if the myelin sheath gets damaged by our own body’s immune system. The disease multiple sclerosis mean that the white matter of the brain and spinal cord develop scars or sclerotic spots. This white matter mainly constitutes myelin and the name of the disease was kept as multiple sclerosis. The prime reason for the occurrence of sclerotic spots is not known still.
If the body shows immunity, it means that the body has the ability to fight with the foreign matter that comes into it. Auto immunity is a condition where the fighting cells of the body cannot differentiate the host from foreign material. The fighting mechanism in the body starts destroying the host cells. This is what was thought to be happening in the case of multiple sclerosis. The body’s fighting mechanism will consider the myelin cells around the axon as foreign material and starts destroying them. The exact reason for this process to occur is unknown. Scientists think that the probable reasons for autoimmunity in multiple sclerosis might be genetic factors, responding to an infection or any virus and the environmental factors.