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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Aug 2023 - 1 Sep 2023


Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Orofacial/Head Pain

2023 Aug 27

J Pain


Trigeminal Neuralgia as A Primary Demyelinating Disease: Potential Multimodal Evidence and Remaining Controversies.


Mousavi SH, Lindsey JW, Westlund KN, Alles SRA


Trigeminal neuralgia is a heterogeneous disorder with likely multifactorial and complex etiology; however, trigeminal nerve demyelination and injury is observed in almost all patients with trigeminal neuralgia. The current management strategies for trigeminal neuralgia primarily involve anticonvulsants and surgical interventions, neither of which directly address demyelination, the pathological hallmark of trigeminal neuralgia and treatments targeting demyelination are not available. Demyelination of the trigeminal nerve has been historically considered a secondary effect of vascular compression, and as a result, trigeminal neuralgia is not recognized nor treated as a primary demyelinating disorder. In this article, we review the evolution of our understanding of trigeminal neuralgia and provide evidence to propose its potential categorization, at least in some cases, as a primary demyelinating disease by discussing its course and similarities to multiple sclerosis, the most prevalent central nervous system demyelinating disorder. This proposed categorization may provide a basis in investigating novel treatment modalities beyond the current medical and surgical interventions, emphasizing the need for further research into demyelination of the trigeminal sensory pathway in trigeminal neuralgia. PERSPECTIVE: This article proposes trigeminal neuralgia as a demyelinating disease, supported by histological, clinical, and radiological evidence. Such categorization offers a plausible explanation for controversies surrounding trigeminal neuralgia. This perspective holds potential for future research and developing therapeutics targeting demyelination in the condition.