Experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), a T cell-mediated autoimmune disease can be transferred with lymphoid cells from actively immunized rats into naive recipients. In the mouse, previous studies have suggested a role for histamine/serotonin in the development of active EAE. We have found that myelin basic protein-reactive cells transfer a biphasic skin test response to naive rats analogous to what has been described in the mouse contact dermatitis system, where mast cell sensitization by Ag-specific T cell factors is required for the induction of skin test responses. Treatment of cell recipients with the serotonin receptor antagonists, cyproheptadine or methysergide, blocked or significantly reduced the development of EAE. Furthermore, it was found that treatment with cyproheptadine was effective in blocking clinical disease when administered day 3 to day 6 after cell transfer. In contrast, cyproheptadine treatments before induction of paralysis day 0 to 3, failed to alter the course of clinical disease. The inhibitor of mast cell degranulation, proxicromil, was also found to effectively block the elicitation of adoptively transferred EAE and was also found to be effective when administered just before the onset of clinical disease. Reserpine, a compound known to deplete mast cells of vasoactive amines by forcing granule contents into the cytoplasm where they are degraded by cell enzymes, was also effective in blocking both active and adoptively transferred EAE. Disease inhibition was found to be partially reversed with pargyline, an inhibitor of monoamine oxidase. In addition lymphocytes from treated animals were capable of transferring disease to naive recipients and appeared to have normal activity as assessed by Ag-or mitogen-driven proliferation in addition to IL-2 production.

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