Primary EBV infection and MS


Ascherio et al. Primary EBV infection and MS. Ann Neurol 2010; in press.

“In this study all EBV-negative subjects (10 out of 10) who developed MS became EBV positive before MS onset. In contrast, only 36% (10 of the 28) controls subjects who were EBV-negative became EBV-positive with follow-up. Ascherio and colleagues conclude that MS risk is extremely low among individuals not infected with EBV, but it increases sharply in the same individuals following EBV infection.”

Interpretation: This study is very important with regard to pinning down whether or not EBV causes MS. It ticks one of the criteria for causation; i.e. the correct temporal sequence. You need to get infected with EBV prior to MS onset.

Prof G

4 thoughts on “Primary EBV infection and MS”

  1. Even if EBV was proven to be a cause / one of the causes of MS, what would this mean in terms of treatment? Vaccination of children against EBV (when a vaccine is available)? This might erradicate MS for future generations. What about those with MS – can EBV be erradicated from the body? Are anti-virals an option? And only recently Vit D was shown to be involved. Do the two (EBV / Vit D) work together?

  2. We are working on the EBV/vD link! It will be very important to establish how they interact. There is some evidence that EBV may be driving MS disease activity and if correct it may be amenable to anti-viral therapy. Interestingly Rituximab (anti-CD20) targets B-cells, the cell that hosts EBV. Rituximab is an anti-EBV agent and it works in MS; it remains to be determined if this is its mechanism of action.

  3. Good luck with your work trying to link MS with EBV. There appears to be a strong link between the two – but the researchers can never quite prove it. Maybe the next generation of anti-CD20 agents will be even more effective at depleting EBV infected B cells.

  4. A couple of studies I find interesting are the Manchester one on Minocycline (antibiotic) in schizophrenia and Nottingham university were studying the link between MS and Schizophrenia.Also noticed an idea on HERV-W virus being activated by things like herpes toxoplasmosis in schizophrenia bipolar and MS Id probarbly add in Autism there too.I originally got the vitamin D test as a cheap way so I was told to test for bacterial infections was thinking of lymes at the time,im deficient at 14.7

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