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According to a New Study, the Epstein Barr-Virus May Cause Multiple Sclerosis



Epstein Barr-Virus

In recent research, the strongest evidence yet has been gathered that Epstein Barr-Virus (EBV) infection triggers the development of MS in people.

More than 10 million blood samples were collected from military personnel in the United States by researchers. Initially, the researchers determined EBV status when the first sample was taken, and then followed additional samples to explore the relationship between EBV infection and MS onset. MS rates were 32-fold higher in people with EBV infection.

Neurofilament light chain (NFL) was also measured in the blood, a substance released into the spinal fluid and blood when nerves are damaged by MS. When people with MS were not infected with EBV at the beginning of the study, there was no evidence of elevated NFL. Elevated NFL levels were detected after infection prior to diagnosis. NFL levels were only elevated in people who became infected with EBV and later developed MS.

In the study, no consideration was given to whether EBV is involved in ongoing MS activity (for example, triggering relapses or progression) in people with established MS.

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About Epstein Barr-Virus

Viruses like Epstein Barr-Virus (EBV) are very common. Up to 95% of all adults will have been exposed to EBV, but most will not experience any symptoms or illness. People can also get a glandular fever (infectious mononucleosis) from a more serious infection. Most people with MS have previously been infected with EBV, according to a modern detection method.

This research supports the theory that EBV may trigger MS, which has been proposed for some time. The real mystery is why MS occurs in only a few cases of EBV infection when most people get the infection during childhood. According to the most widely held view, a combination of risk factors is involved, including genetics, lifestyle (smoking, diet, obesity), and the environment (sun exposure, pollution). A vaccine against EBV is currently being tested in early-stage clinical trials. Understanding how EBV interacts with other factors might ultimately lead to the development of a treatment that prevents MS.

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