Animal Models of Demyelination of the Central Nervous System

  • A. Uccelli
Part of the Topics in Neuroscience book series (TOPNEURO)


Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is possibly the best animal model for studying autoimmune diseases and in particular demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Since the classic studies of Rivers et al. [1] in monkeys immunized with CNS homogenate, EAE has been an invaluable tool for dissecting mechanisms of the immune response against self-antigens within the CNS, as well for testing new therapies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune response leading to EAE in susceptible species can be obtained by active immunization with CNS proteins or by passive transfer of T lymphocytes reactive against myelin antigens to syngeneic recipients. The role of T lymphocytes in EAE was first demonstrated by Paterson who succeeded in transferring disease by means of T cells from immunized animals [2]. Since then, many researchers have attempted to characterize the role of T cells in EAE. Over the years it became clear that activated CD4+ T cells mediate EAE upon recognition of the target antigen bound to class II molecules of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) [3]. Encephalitogenic T cells can be retrieved from the blood of immunized as well as naive animals, supporting the concept that autoaggressive lymphocytes are part of the natural immune repertoire [4, 5].


Major Histocompatibility Complex Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Myelin Basic Protein Experimental Allergic Encephalomyelitis Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Uccelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Neuroimmunology Unit, Department of Neurological Sciences and NeurorehabilitationUniversity of GenoaItaly

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