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The objective of this study was to assess neuronal pathology in the spinal cord in multiple sclerosis (MS), both within myelinated and demyelinated tissue. Autopsy material was obtained from 38 MS cases and 21 controls. Transverse sections were taken from three spinal cord levels and stained using Luxol Fast Blue/Cresyl Violet and myelin protein immunohistochemistry. Measurements of neuronal number and size were made for all neurons within the anterior horns of the gray matter. Neurons were classified as motoneurons or interneurons according to size criteria. In comparison with controls, both motoneuron and interneuron number were reduced in MS cases at the upper cervical (interneuron P = 0.0549; motoneuron P = 0.0073) and upper thoracic (interneuron P = 0.0507; motoneuron P = 0.0144), but not the lumbar level. Interneuron cross-sectional area was reduced in MS cases at all levels (upper cervical, P = 0.0000; upper thoracic, P = 0.0002; lumbar, P = 0.0337). Neuronal loss appears to be predominantly related to local gray matter plaques, whereas interneuron atrophy occurs in both myelinated and demyelinated areas.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Pathol

Publication Date





642 - 649


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Atrophy, Cell Count, Cell Size, Female, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Interneurons, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Neurons, Multiple Sclerosis, Myelin Sheath, Nerve Fibers, Myelinated, Nerve Fibers, Unmyelinated, Regression Analysis, Spinal Cord, Staining and Labeling