Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is a model of the neuroimmune system responding to priming with central nervous system (CNS)-restricted antigens. It is an excellent model of post-vaccinal encephalitis and a useful model of many aspects of multiple sclerosis. EAE has been established in numerous species and is induced by priming with a large number of CNS-derived antigens. As a consequence, the pathogenesis, pathology and clinical signs vary significantly between experimental protocols. As I describe in this Timeline article, the reductionist approach taken in some lines of investigation of EAE resulted in a reliance on results obtained under a narrow range of conditions. Although such studies made important contributions to our molecular understanding of inflammation, T-cell activation, and MHC restriction, they did not advance as effectively our knowledge of the polyantigenic responses that usually occur in CNS immunopathology and autoimmunity.
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I thank H. Koerner for helpful discussion, M. Jordan for critical review, H. McDevitt for his comments on an early draft of the manuscript and D. Godfrey for his suggestions. This work was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.
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Baxter, A. The origin and application of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Nat Rev Immunol 7, 904–912 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nri2190
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