An altered immune response to Epstein-Barr virus in multiple sclerosis: A prospective study

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Abstract

Objective:

To investigate the association between human herpesviruses and multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as between measles virus and MS.

Methods:

The authors identified prospectively collected serum samples from 73 MS cases and retrospective sera from 161 MS cases in two population-based serum bank registers. Analyses of IgG antibody responses in cases and matched referents were performed for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV [EBNA-1 and VCA]), human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), herpes simplex virus (HSV), varicella zoster virus (VZV), and measles.

Results:

All cases showed signs of past EBV infection. High activity to EBNA-1 and HHV-6 significantly (borderline significance for HHV-6) increased the risk for MS in prospective sera. A discrepancy between activities to EBNA-1 and VCA was striking in MS samples collected less than 5 years before relapsing-remitting MS onset, where high activity to EBNA-1 significantly increased, and high VCA activity significantly decreased the risk for MS. There was no support for major causal roles for HSV, VZV, or measles.

Conclusion:

Individuals who will develop MS exhibit an altered immune response against the EBV virus characterized by a high IgG activity to EBNA-1 in the absence of high activity to VCA, this being most pronounced in the 5-year period preceding MS onset.

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