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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Devic disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Devic syndrome
  • Devic's neuromyelitis optica
  • Neuromyelitis optica
  • NMO
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What causes Devic disease?

Most cases of Devic disease are idiopathic (meaning that the underlying mechanism that triggers the condition is unknown). Studies of affected cells and tissues have improved our understanding of the disease process. In Devic disease immune proteins (autoantibodies) attach themselves to specialized proteins in the spinal cord and optical nerve called "water channel proteins" (specifically aquaporin-4 or AQP4). The autoantibodies signal immune cells and proteins to attack resulting in damage to myelin and the breakdown of healthy nerves and tissues.[1]

There have been a few cases of Devic disease occurring in association with certain infectious conditions (e.g., syphilis, HIV, chlamydia, varicella, cytomegalovirus, and Epstein Barr virus). The nature of this association isn't clear. It is possible that certain infections may trigger Devic disease in individuals who are predisposed to the condition.[1]
Last updated: 10/13/2010

  1. Hazin H, Khan F, Bhatti MT. Neuromyeliits optica: Current concepts and prospects for future management. Current opinion in opthalmology. 2009;