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Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by perivenous inflammation and focal destruction of myelin. Many attempts have been undertaken previously to create animal models of chronic inflammatory demyelinating diseases through autoimmunity or virus infection. Recently, however, a new model of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) induced autoimmune encephalomyelitis became available, which, in a very standardized and predictable way, leads to chronic (relapsing or progressive) disease and widespread CNS demyelination.

In the present study we actively induced MOG-experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in different inbred rat strains using different immunization protocols. The pathology found in our models closely reflects the spectrum of multiple sclerosis (MS) pathology: Classical MS as well as variants such as optic neuritis, Devic's disease and Marburg's type of acute MS are mimicked in rats immunized with MOG antigen. Furthermore we demonstrate, that by using the proper strain/sensitization regime, subforms of MS such as for instance neuromyelitis optica can be reproducibly induced. Our study further supports the notion, that incidence and expression of the disease in this model, alike the situation in multiple sclerosis, is determined by genetic and environmental factors.