HISTOLOGICALLY, multiple sclerosis is characterized by focal necrobiosis of white matter with degeneration of myelin sheaths and, usually, a high degree of sparing of axons.1 Chemically, the foci of demyelination show loss of glycerophospholipids, cholesterol, and cerebrosides,2-6 as well as selective loss of particular fatty acids.5-8 The chemical changes are consistent with the histological demonstration of myelin loss but are not sufficiently specific to indicate whether the axons passing through the plaques are normal in composition.
The lipid most characteristic of gray matter, gangliosides, has not been studied with modern methods in multiple sclerosis plaques or normal-appearing white matter (NAWM). Probably the main reason for this is the difficulty of adapting the analytical techniques to determining the relatively low concentration of gangliosides in white matter. Lowden and Wolfe,9 in a detailed study of the distribution of lipid-bound sialic acid, concluded that gangliosides occur in
KISHIMOTO Y, RADIN NS, TOURTELLOTTE WW, PARKER JA, ITABASHI HH. Gangliosides and Glycerophospholipids in Multiple Sclerosis White Matter. Arch Neurol. 1967;16(1):44–54. doi:10.1001/archneur.1967.00470190048006
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