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MS Demyelinisation CD68 10xv2.jpg|
Demyelinating disease
ICD-10 G35-G37, G610
ICD-9 340-341, 357.0
OMIM [1]
DiseasesDB [2]
MedlinePlus [3]
eMedicine /
MeSH {{{MeshNumber}}}

A demyelinating disease is any disease of the nervous system in which the myelin sheath of neurons is damaged.[1] This impairs the conduction of signals in the affected nerves, causing impairment in sensation, movement, cognition, or other functions depending on which nerves are involved.

The term describes the effect of the disease, rather than its cause; some demyelinating diseases are caused by genetics, some by infectious agents, some by autoimmune reactions, and some by unknown factors. Organophosphates, a class of chemicals which are the active ingredients in commercial insecticides such as sheep dip, weed-killers, and flea treatment preparations for pets, etc., will also demyelinate nerves.

Neuroleptics can cause demyelination.[2]

Symptoms of demyelination

Demyelination (i.e., the destruction or loss of the myelin sheath) results in diverse symptoms determined by the functions of the affected neurons. It disrupts signals between the brain and other parts of the body; symptoms differ from patient to patient, and have different presentations upon clinical observation and in laboratory studies.

Typical symptoms include:

  • blurriness in the central visual field that affects only one eye; may be accompanied by pain upon eye movement;
  • double vision;
  • odd sensation in legs, arms, chest, or face, such as tingling or numbness (neuropathy);
  • weakness of arms or legs;
  • cognitive disruption including speech impairment and memory loss;
  • heat sensitivity (symptoms worsen, reappear upon exposure to heat such as a hot shower);
  • loss of dexterity;
  • difficulty coordinating movement or balance disorder;
  • difficulty controlling bowel movements or urination;
  • fatigue.

Demyelinating diseases

Demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system include:

Demyelinating diseases of the peripheral nervous system include:

See also

  • Multiple sclerosis borderline
  • The Lesion Project (multiple sclerosis)
  • The Myelin Project
  • Myelin Repair Foundation


  1. Template:DorlandsDict
  2. Konopaske GT, Dorph-Petersen KA, Sweet RA, et al. (April 2008). Effect of chronic antipsychotic exposure on astrocyte and oligodendrocyte numbers in macaque monkeys. Biol. Psychiatry 63 (8): 759–65.



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