Experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) is a T helper 1 (Th1) mediated autoimmune disease and the principal animal model for multiple sclerosis (MS). Like MS, EAE is characterized by a coordinated inflammatory attack on the myelin sheath in the central nervous system (CNS), with damage to axons. No matter whether the ideal animal model is not yet available, much knowledge concerning the pathogenesis of MS has been achieved through studies on EAE. Dissecting the underlying immune mechanisms provided recognition of several myelin antigens that are vulnerable in autoimmune attack. The beneficial effect and the mechanism of action of a number of the currently used immunomodulating agents in MS therapy were first indicated in EAE. Altered peptide ligands (APL) can modulate T-cell responses to native peptide antigens implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases such as MS and EAE. However, peptide therapy is hindered due to the sensitivity of peptides to proteolytic enzymes as well as due to some immune-mediated side effects. A number of cyclic myelin peptide analogs seem to be potential candidates in maintaining the biological function of the original peptide and effective in controlling inflammation in EAE. Additional data regarding the immunomodulating and neuroprotective effect of these much promising agents is required. Based on the data from studies on EAE models, clinical trials should also be designed in order to elucidate the impact of such APL-induced immune responses in MS disease activity. These clinical trials should carefully incorporate monitoring of both clinical, neuroimaging and immunological parameters.
Keywords: experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, multiple sclerosis, altered peptide ligands, myelin cyclic peptide analogs
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