Demyelination Diseases: Multiple Sclerosis and Guillain-Barré Syndrome

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OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology

Demyelination of axons is caused by several types of diseases including genetic, bacterial infection, and autoimmune disorders. Despite the varied causes, the outcome is similar. The myelin sheath of the axons is degenerated and as a result, the electrical signal travels through the axon at a slower pace.

– What is the effect of demylination of axons on neural electrical signal?

One demyelination-causing disease is multiple sclerosis (MS) and it is a type of autoimmune disease. In MS, white blood cells produce antibodies that bind to myelin and marking it as a foreign substance that should not be in the human body. This triggers an immune response that destroys the myelin in the central nervous system. Scars develop as the insulation around the axons is damaged by the disease. The meaning of the word sclerosis means scar. The disease causes several scars in the white matter of the brain and spinal cord hence, the word multiple sclerosis. MS symptoms include autonomic and somatic deficiency. Patients with MS have flawed skeletal muscle control as well as flawed organ control such as the stomach and intestines.

– Multiple sclerosis causes several scars in what structures of the brain?

Another demyelination-causing disease is Guillain-Barré syndrome which affects the peripheral nervous system and it is also a type of autoimmune disease. Symptoms include sensory and motor deficiency. Autonomic defects can cause abnormal heart rhythm or decrease in blood pressure particularly when standing resulting in a loss of balance or dizziness.

– Guillain-Barré syndrome is an autoimmune disease that affects what part of the nervous system?


Betts, J. G., Young, K. A., Wise, J. A., Johnson, E., Poe, B., Kruse, D. H., … DeSaix, P. (n.d.). Anatomy and Physiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at:


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