Experimental models of multiple sclerosis

Curr Opin Neurol. 2011 Jun;24(3):291-9. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e328346c226.


Purpose of review: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system of unknown cause. There are many medications available for the disease, but none are clearly effective in ameliorating its long-term disabling effects. MS is felt to be most likely either due to an aberrant immune response or a pathogen, or possibly a combination of the two, and the animal models available reflect these two possible pathogeneses. The hallmarks of the disease are demyelination, inflammation, axonal injury, and progressive disability. This review explores the experimental models of multiple sclerosis.

Recent findings: There are a variety of forms of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, the most commonly studied animal model of MS. Two viruses, Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus and murine hepatitis virus, are used to induce infectious models of the disease.

Summary: The animal models have their advantages and disadvantages, but no model fully reproduces the spectrum of the human disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / immunology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / pathology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Inflammation
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / immunology
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / pathology
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / physiopathology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology


  • Immunosuppressive Agents