Inherited and acquired disorders of myelin: The underlying myelin pathology

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Remyelination is a major therapeutic goal in human myelin disorders, serving to restore function to demyelinated axons and providing neuroprotection. The target disorders that might be amenable to the promotion of this repair process are diverse and increasing in number. They range primarily from those of genetic, inflammatory to toxic origin. In order to apply remyelinating strategies to these disorders, it is essential to know whether the myelin damage results from a primary attack on myelin or the oligodendrocyte or both, and whether indeed these lead to myelin breakdown and demyelination. In some disorders, myelin sheath abnormalities are prominent but demyelination does not occur. This review explores the range of human and animal disorders where myelin pathology exists and focusses on defining the myelin changes in each and their cause, to help define whether they are targets for myelin repair therapy.

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