Author(s): Emerson MR, Gallagher RJ, Marquis JG, LeVine SM
Advancing the understanding of the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) likely will lead to new and better therapeutics. Although important information about the disease process has been obtained from research on pathologic specimens, peripheral blood lymphocytes and MRI studies, the elucidation of detailed mechanisms has progressed largely through investigations using animal models of MS. In addition, animal models serve as an important tool for the testing of putative interventions. The most commonly studied model of MS is experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). This model can be induced in a variety of species and by various means, but there has been concern that the model may not accurately reflect the disease process, and more importantly, it may give rise to erroneous findings when it is used to test possible therapeutics. Several reasons have been given to explain the shortcomings of this model as a useful testing platform, but one idea provides a framework for improving the value of this model, and thus, it deserves careful consideration. In particular, the idea asserts that EAE studies are inadequately designed to enable appropriate evaluation of putative therapeutics. Here we discuss problem areas within EAE study designs and provide suggestions for their improvement. This paper is principally directed at investigators new to the field of EAE, although experienced investigators may find useful suggestions herein.