P: 281-298-6742 | F: 281-419-1373|info@TWIHW.com

What Do Multiple Sclerosis and Epstein-Barr Virus Have to Do With Each Other?

by Mila McManus MD

Michael Levy, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a recent interview that new groundbreaking findings confirm that Epstein-Barr Virus is “likely the primary cause of Multiple Sclerosis [MS].

Epstein-Barr Virus [EBV] exists in 90-95% of adults.  It is a germ that, when contracted, results in flu-like symptoms, and is the cause of infectious mononucleosis, also known as”Mono” and “the kissing disease”.  Once a person has had EBV infection, the virus settles into the human body for life.  For most people, it remains dormant and harmless. However, EBV is implicated as a cause of several types of cancer (lymphoma and nasopharyngeal tumors) and MS.

Epstein-Barr Virus was first linked to MS back in 1981.  In 2022, the landmark study was published in Science. Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School analyzed blood serum from 10 million active-duty members of the US military.  They identified 801 recruits with MS and matched them with more than 1500 controls.  They found that 800 of the 801 recruits had been infected with EBV; infection seemed to boost the risk for MS 32-fold.

In MS, the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath and the axons it insulates. There are two main theories about why EBV causes MS.  The first is called the “molecular mimicry” theory. The thought is that EBV triggers MS when the immune system mistakes a viral protein for a myelin protein and then attacks myelin.  The second theory proposes that EBV is a driver of MS, where an ongoing, lifelong immunological response to EBV continuously causes damage in the central nervous system. There is some evidence for each one of these theories.

In theory, then, if EBV can be eradicated from the body, eradication could be a treatment and a cure for MS. It remains unclear why most people infected with EBV do not develop MS. While most of the world gets exposed to EBV, only 1 in 1000 people get MS.  

If you have MS, or have reactivated EBV or a family history of EBV or infectious mononucleosis, talk with your medical provider about possible treatments for MS, or to reduce your risk of MS.

Be well. Live Well.

Ref:   science.org


By |2024-05-09T06:38:09-05:00May 9th, 2024|General|