MS and EBV

If EBV is the driver of MS, then there must surely be evidence that something related to EBV that associates with disease activity.

Does the Black Swan get it?

Gieß RM, Pfuhl C, Behrens JR, Rasche L, Freitag E, Khalighy N, Otto C, Wuerfel J, Brandt AU, Hofmann J, Eberspächer B, Bellmann-Strobl J, Paul F, Ruprecht K. Epstein-Barr virus antibodies in serum and DNA load in saliva are not associated with radiological or clinical disease activity in patients with early multiple sclerosis. PLoS One. 7;12(4):e0175279.


To investigate the association of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) nuclear antigen-1 (EBNA-1) and viral capsid antigen (VCA) immunoglobulin (Ig)G antibodies in serum as well as EBV DNA load in saliva with radiological and clinical disease activity in patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and early relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).


EBNA-1 and VCA immunoglobulin (Ig)G antibodies were determined in serum of 100 patients with CIS/early RRMS and 60 healthy controls. EBV DNA load was measured in saliva of 48 patients and 50 controls. Patients underwent clinical assessment with the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging at baseline and after a median of 20 months of follow-up (n = 63 for MRI, n = 71 for EDSS). The association of EBV parameters with occurrence of a second relapse, indicating conversion to clinically definite MS (CDMS), was evaluated over a median of 35 months of follow-up after the first clinical event (n = 89).


EBNA-1 IgG antibody frequency (p = 0.00005) and EBNA-1 and VCA IgG antibody levels (p<0.0001 for both) were higher in patients than in controls. EBV DNA load in saliva did not differ between groups. Neither EBV antibody levels nor DNA load in saliva were associated with baseline or follow-up number or volume of T2-weighted (T2w) or contrast enhancing lesions, number of Barkhof criteria or the EDSS, or with the number of new T2w lesions, T2w lesion volume change or EDSS change on follow-up. Likewise, levels of EBV IgG antibodies in serum and DNA load in saliva were not associated with conversion to CDMS.


While these findings confirm the association of EBV infection with early MS, neither EBNA-1 nor VCA IgG antibodies in serum nor EBV DNA load in saliva were associated with radiological or clinical disease activity in patients with CIS/early RRMS. These data are compatible with the concept that EBV may be a trigger for MS acting very early during the development of the disease.

Sisay S, Lopez-Lozano L, Mickunas M, Quiroga-Fernández A, Palace J, Warnes G, Lafuente RA, Dua P, Meier UC. Untreated relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis patients show antibody production against latent Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) antigens mainly in the periphery and innate immune IL-8 responses preferentially in the CNS. J Neuroimmunol. 2017 May 15;306:40-45.

BACKGROUND:Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory and neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system (CNS). Reliable biomarkers are urgently needed for its diagnosis and management, and as clues to its pathogenesis, in which EBV is implicated.
OBJECTIVE:To measure IgG antibodies against EBV nuclear antigen-1 (EBNA-1) and innate inflammation status in paired serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from untreated relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:Anti-EBNA-1 IgG titres and IL-8, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, TNF-α and IL-12p70 cytokine levels were measured in 20 untreated RRMS-patients and 17 healthy controls.
RESULTS:We found higher serum anti-EBNA-1 IgG and IL-8 levels in RRMS-patients than in healthy controls. Interestingly, levels of IL-8 - relative to total protein - were much higher in the CSF, whereas the anti-EBNA-1 antibodies were significantly higher in the sera. More detailed analysis showed that anti-EBNA-1 antibodies relative to total IgG were also higher in the serum in the majority of RRMS patients compared to CSF. Levels of anti-EBNA-1 IgG and IL-8 showed a strong correlation between serum and CSF.
CONCLUSION:These findings in newly diagnosed RRMS-patients imply anti-EBNA-1 antibody production mainly in the periphery and innate immune responses preferentially in the CNS. Both their potential as disease biomarkers and their implications for the pathogenesis of MS warrant further investigation.

So both studies agree that there is evidence of EBV infection in people diagnosed with MS. So the Black swan lives. 

However, no evidence of viral shedding in saliva and clinical activity was found, but not sure why this would be the casse even if EBV was the driver for attacks.