Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody disease (MOGAD) is a condition that causes inflammation in the nervous system. In MOGAD, antibodies attack a protein called myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG).

MOG is found on the protective myelin sheath of nerve cells. When antibodies attack MOG, it causes damage to myelin, leading to demyelination. When nerves become demyelinated, they don’t function as well.

MOGAD can affect both adults and children. While it can cause similar symptoms to multiple sclerosis (MS), it’s recognized as a distinct condition.

Keep reading to learn more.

MOGAD can affect parts of the nervous system like the optic nerve, spinal cord, and brain.

It’s been associated with the following conditions:

Optic neuritis

Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve. This nerve transmits signals between your eyes and your brain.

Optic neuritis has symptoms like:

  • eye pain, particularly when moving your eye
  • blurry vision
  • difficulty seeing color
  • blind spots or vision loss

Transverse myelitis

Transverse myelitis is when inflammation affects the spinal cord. The exact symptoms of transverse myelitis can vary depending on which part of the spinal cord is affected. Symptoms can include:

  • pain
  • abnormal sensations, which can include feelings of numbness and tingling (“pins and needles”) and extreme sensitivity to touch
  • muscle weakness or paralysis, particularly in the arms and legs
  • bladder or bowel control problems

Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)

ADEM is an inflammatory condition that affects the brain. It often happens after an infection. Symptoms can include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • weakness
  • numbness
  • problems with coordination or balance
  • vision loss
  • confusion

The way MOGAD presents can vary between adults and children. For example, MOGAD in children is often associated with ADEM. In adults, the condition is typically associated with optic neuritis or transverse myelitis.

Children who develop MOGAD often have a one-time attack of the condition. However, some research from 2021 indicates that up to 83 percent of adults with MOGAD may have repeat attacks, or relapses.

During a relapse, it’s possible to have the same symptoms as you had during your initial attack. It’s also possible you’ll experience new symptoms.

It’s unknown what exactly causes MOGAD. Most cases occur in the absence of a predisposing event or illness. Doctors and scientists are currently working hard to learn more.

Doctors can diagnose MOGAD when MOG antibodies are found in the blood of a person experiencing inflammation of the nervous system.

Your doctor can test for MOG antibodies using a sample of blood collected from a vein in your arm.

It’s also possible that your doctor may order an MRI scan to detect signs of inflammation affecting the optic nerve or the brain. An analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) may also be done.

We’re still learning more about MOGAD. Because of this, there are currently no standardized treatment guidelines for the condition.

High-dose corticosteroids may treat an initial attack or relapse of MOGAD. These drugs can reduce inflammation in the body. Typically, you’ll receive this medication intravenously (through an IV).

If an attack is severe or corticosteroids aren’t effective, other treatment options may be used. These include intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and plasma exchange therapy.

Your doctor will continue to monitor you for the presence of MOG antibodies or signs of a potential relapse.

In some cases, you may be able to prevent relapses by taking immunosuppressive or immunomodulating medications like:

While many people may recover well from MOGAD, it’s also possible to have lasting effects. Some research has found that adults have a worse functional recovery than children.

Some of the potential long-term effects of MOGAD can include:

If you do experience lasting effects, your doctor will work to manage them based off your individual needs. This may include things like physical or occupational therapy, medications, or lifestyle changes.

MOGAD happens when antibodies attack the MOG protein found on nerves. This causes demyelination, leading to the symptoms of MOGAD.

MOGAD is associated with optic neuritis, transverse myelitis, and ADEM. Children often experience a one-time attack, while adults are at a higher risk of relapsing illness.

Treatment of an acute MOGAD attack can involve high-dose IV corticosteroids or infusions. Immunosuppressant drugs may help prevent relapses. Some people can have lasting effects from MOGAD, requiring long-term management.