In experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), produced by injecting rabbits with whole rabbit spinal cord together with tubercle bacilli and mineral oil, lesions comparable to those seen in the central nervous system are found in the nerve roots, spinal ganglia, and peripheral nerves. When special fractions of bovine white matter are used as antigen in rabbits, the same distribution of lesions is seen but peripheral nerve involvement is relatively less frequent.
When rabbit sciatic nerve or spinal ganglia are used as antigen in rabbits, lesions occur only in the roots, ganglia, and peripheral nerves. Lesions are not produced in the central nervous system, nor is there a meningitis. This disease picture has been called experimental allergic neuritis (EAN). The antigenicity of rabbit nerve is not impaired by autoclaving. Sciatic nerve of other mammalian species produces the same disease in rabbits as does rabbit nerve.
Optic nerve, used as antigen, produces the typical picture of EAE, not EAN. The optic nerves are not affected in EAN, whereas they commonly contain lesions in EAE.
There are differences of symptomatology, referable to the difference in distribution of lesions, between EAE and EAN. The spinal fluid of EAE shows an increase both in the number of cells and in the total protein content. In EAN, the same changes in protein are observed, but usually the cell count remains normal. The cell count appears to be related to the involvement of cerebral and spinal meninges, which is an almost invariable accompaniment of EAE. The skin tests and serologic studies made with homologous and heterologous antigens were essentially non-contributory, apparently as a consequence of the diversity of antigens present in the inoculated materials.
The similarity between EAN and certain of the human polyneuritides is indicated and discussed.