Epstein-Barr Virus Can Lead to Multiple Sclerosis

  • 2 Min To Read
  • a year ago

A new report has revealed how the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may be linked to the development of multiple sclerosis (MS). The study found that certain antibodies produced by the body to fight the EBV infection may mistakenly attack the brain and spinal cord, leading to damage to the nervous system and causing balance and mobility problems associated with MS. Additionally, T cells, another part of the immune response that protects against infections, may also misfire and attack the nervous system. Previous evidence has suggested that EBV infection is a prerequisite for MS, but scientists are still trying to understand the mechanisms by which the virus may contribute to the development of the disease. While the majority of people have had an EBV infection, only a small percentage develop MS, indicating that other mechanisms, such as genetic risk factors, may also be at play.

Researchers examined the blood samples of 713 people with MS and 722 healthy individuals and found that the antibodies produced to fight the EBV infection, known as EBNA1, can also bind to a protein called CRYAB in the brain and spinal cord. When these antibodies bind to the CRYAB proteins, they may damage the nervous system and lead to MS symptoms. The misdirected antibodies were detected in about 23% of people with MS and 7% of those who were healthy. The study also found cross-reactivity among T cells, indicating that they may also contribute to the disease.

While most people are infected with EBV early in life, the virus remains dormant in the body, typically without causing symptoms. Scientists have known for some time that there is a link between EBV and MS, with prior research suggesting that the risk of MS increases 32-fold after an EBV infection. A large study from 2022 found that nearly 100% of people with MS had previously been infected with EBV. The new findings may help scientists develop a vaccine against EBV that could prevent future cases of MS. The researchers suggest that MS prevention needs to be personalized, and eradication or suppression of EBV may also help.


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