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In the disease multiple sclerosis, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks myelin, the fatty, protein-packed insulating material that surrounds axons, the long tendrils of neurons. The destruction of this myelin sheath dramatically impairs the ability of neurons to conduct impulses. Oligodendrocyte cells make the myelin and wrap it around an axon in layers. Below, an oligodendrocyte (green) is preparing to cloak axons (purple) in myelin.

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COURTESY OF ALAN HOOFRING NIH Medical Arts (illustration); COURTESY OF R. DOUGLAS FIELDS National Institutes of Health (micrograph)

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