It was a French neurologist at the Salpetriere in Paris, Jean Martin Charcot, who first described multiple sclerosis in 1868. He noted the accumulation of inflammatory cells in a perivascular distribution within the brain and spinal cord white matter of patients with intermittent episodes of neurologic dysfunction. This led to the term ‘sclerose en plaque disseminees’, or Multiple Sclerosis (MS) .
In 1933, Thomas Rivers at the Rockefeller Institute demonstrated experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an autoimmune demyelinating disease in mammals. He achieved this with the repeated injection of rabbit brain and spinal cord into primates. This has led to the generally accepted hypothesis that multiple sclerosis is secondary to an autoimmune response to self antigens in a host .