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Dissemination of MS tissue

Our expert staff collects, manages and characterizes the tissue. They can also help researchers to select tissue that will help to address the research question in the best way possible.

The NBB's Tissue Advisory Board (TAB. Read more about the TAB and application process in general here) reviews all applications. Whether and how much tissue is disseminated is determined by the quality of the application and the availability of the requested tissue.

MS brain tissue is worldwide scarce and an independent audit committee of NBB-MS advised (February 2017) to secure the tissue collection from scattering. Therefore 25% of the MS tissue per donor, 25% of the different types of MS lesions, and 25% of the donors with extreme MS pathology phenotypes are secured from tissue dissemination, to allow future analysis of the collection as a whole. Overall, the aim of NBB-MS is to disseminate as much tissue as possible and up to today NBB-MS has been able to grant all MS tissue applications, though not in all cases the number of blocks requested.

Selecting MS tissue

For all researchers the following information is available to assist tissue selection:

  • Photographs of paraffin sections, in which the lesion stage is indicated in numbers 1–6 and subscores for phagocytes (1–3) (see figure and table here) are available for applicants of MS tissue so they can choose the best from an optimal selection.

Note, in many cases more types of lesions are present in one block, therefore it is impossible to provide for example 10 active and 10 inactive lesions, which in fact is the most frequent request. For some research questions the data on MS lesion activity that is collected from all tissue blocks that were dissected from the MS donors is useful for the tissue selection. 

Additional Data

Based on the pathological and genetic analysis of the MS autopsy cohort1,2 access to the following research data on the MS donors specifics is available. This data was generated by researchers of the Neuroimmunology group (IMM) as part of projects independent of NBB-MS. Therefore, this data is only accessible if co-authorship of the involved IMM researcher can be provided. Please contact enbb@nin.knaw.nl if you have questions about this:

  • Proportions of reactive, active, mixed active inactive, inactive remyelinating lesions per donor. Yes / No incidence of cortical grey matter lesions;
  • Lesion activity based on the phenotype of microglia/macrophages in active and mixed active inactive lesions;
  • Total lesion load and reactive lesion load, calculated on brain stem lesions from standard locations;
  • Duration of disease;
  • 105 SNP’s related to either MS pathology or disease severity in GWAS studies.


1: Luchetti, S., Fransen, N. L., van Eden, C. G., Ramaglia, V., Mason, M., & Huitinga, I. (2018). Progressive multiple sclerosis patients show substantial lesion activity that correlates with clinical disease severity and sex: A retrospective autopsy cohort analysis. Acta Neuropathologica, 135(4), 511–528. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00401-018-1818-y 

2: Fransen, N. L., Crusius, J. B. A., Smolders, J., Mizee, M. R., van Eden, C. G., Luchetti, S., Remmerswaal, E. B. M., Hamann, J., Mason, M. R. J., & Huitinga, I. (2020). Post-mortem multiple sclerosis lesion pathology is influenced by single nucleotide polymorphisms. Brain Pathology, 30(1), 106–119. https://doi.org/10.1111/bpa.12760


Dissemination of MS tissue