We report that experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a T cell-mediated autoimmune disease studied as a model for multiple sclerosis, can be suppressed in Lewis rats by the oral administration of myelin basic protein (MBP). Both the clinical and histopathologic manifestations of the disease were suppressed in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, proliferative responses to MBP and, to a lesser extent, serum levels of anti-MBP antibody were suppressed by feeding MBP. Suppression of clinical and histologic disease was observed whether animals were fed MBP before or after disease induction, although suppression was more complete when rats were fed before immunization. Disease was also suppressed by the oral administration of either encephalitogenic or nonencephalitogenic fragments and decapeptides of the MBP molecule, with more complete suppression observed when nonencephalitogenic fragments were fed, suggesting that suppressor determinants exist in the MBP molecule distinct from the encephalitogenic region. The oral administration of a non-disease-inducing portion of an autoantigen represents an antigen-specific method by which an experimental autoimmune disease can be immunoregulated.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.