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Back to basics: what is MS?

Traditionally, multiple sclerosis (MS) has been considered a chronic inflammation of the central nervous system (CNS), but is more accurately described as a multi-component disease characterised by inflammation, neurodegeneration and failure of CNS repair mechanisms.1,2

The aetiology of MS is currently unknown, but susceptibility to the disorder is determined by complex genetic traits as well as environmental factors. It is also clear that immune mechanisms play an essential role in driving the disease process.1–3

The reason for the female predominance is currently unknown, but this gender imbalance appears to be widening,2 with implications among young women looking to start a family (see previous Knowledge Hub article, What do we know about MS in pregnancy?).