Experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) is a demyelinating autoimmune disorder that can be induced in susceptible mice by T lymphocytes sensitized to central nervous system (CNS) myelin components and is a prime animal model for the human CNS demyelinating disorder, multiple sclerosis (MS). Although CNS inflammation in which T lymphocytes and activated macrophages are the predominant cell types is observed in mice with EAE and in humans with MS, the exact mechanisms underlying the CNS damage and demyelination are not understood. Nitric oxide (NO), a gaseous free radical, has recently been shown to be a cytolytic product of activated macrophages. Using electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy, the nitric oxide free radical complexed with iron-sulfur proteins has been identified in affected spinal cords of mice with EAE, concurrent with the diminution of iron-sulfur proteins. These results indicate NO may play a role in the disease process of EAE, and perhaps MS.

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