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What is the role of the immune system in multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is generally believed to be an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system, which normally protects us from disease and infection, reacts against normally occurring antigens (proteins that stimulate an immune response) as if they were foreign. In other words, the body mistakenly attacks itself. While some component of myelin is believed to be the target of that attack, the exact antigen remains unknown. Researchers have identified the immune cells causing the attack and some of the factors that cause them to do so, as well as some of the sites (or receptors) on the attacking cells that appear to be drawn to the myelin to begin the destructive process.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.