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MS Kids

The Brain and Immune System

Before we can understand demyelination and MS it is important to learn about the Central Nervous System and the Immune System.

Central Nervous System (CNS)

Active brain and spinal cord
  • The CNS is the main control centre of your body: it receives, interprets and sends messages so that your body can work properly. It controls how you think, walk, listen to a song and how fast your heart beats.
  • The CNS is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. The brain is divided into several different parts or lobes. Each lobe has a specific role. Inside the CNS are neurons or special nerve cells.
  • Neurons are covered in a special layer called myelin, just like insulating rubber on an electrical wire. Myelin helps nerve signals travel faster.
  • The spinal cord is a long column (about 44 cm long in an adult) of nervous tissue that runs from the base of the skull to the mid-lower back. All nerves to the arms and legs are connected to the spinal cord.
  • The spinal cord is enclosed within the vertebral column and is surrounded by a protective membrane called the meninges. Within the meninges the spinal cord is bathed with a clear fluid called cerebral spinal fluid or CSF.
Active neuron, or nerve cell. Our brain contains 100 billion neurons.
Active neuron, or nerve cell. Our brain contains 100 billion neurons like this one!

Immune System

  • The immune system is the body’s way of fighting against infection.
  • The immune system is made up of multiple types of immune cells (T and B cells, for example), lymph glands, bone marrow and the thymus gland.
  • Immune cells remember what infections the body has seen in the past, and are prepared to get rid of these invading infections if they come back.
  • Unfortunately, immune cells can make a mistake and attack a part of the body, (i.e. the brain), thinking it is an unwanted organism or invader.