More on EBV and MS

Background: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, a history of infectious mononucleosis (IM) and the inheritance of the genes HLA-A and DRB1 are risk factors for MS. 

HLA-A and DRB1 are genes that belong to a human leukocyte (white blood cell) antigens (protein) system that are very important for our immune systems to recognise and fight infections. 

Aim: The aim of this study was to study interactions between antibodies against a protein of EBV called nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA1) and the presence of these HLA genes. 

Results: If study subjects had IM they were 1.89x more likely to get MS. Subjects with raised antibodies in the blood to the EBV protein EBNA1 IgG  had a 1.74x higher risk of developing MS. Subjects with antibodies that reacted with the 385-420 fragment of EBNA1 had 3.60x higher risk of developing MS.  A history of IM and raised antibodies to EBNA1 interacted with both HLA genes. 

Conclusions: The observed interaction between HLA genes and reactivity to EBV suggest that the mechanism through which HLA genes influence the risk of MS may, at least in part, involve the way the immune system controls EBV infection.

Epub ahead of print: Sundqvist et al. Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis: interaction with HLA. Genes Immun. 2011 Jul 21. doi: 10.1038/gene.2011.42. 

"This is a rather complicated story, but nevertheless a very important one. I believe that EBV causes MS and this study confirms the observation that people with a history of IM and/or increased antibodies levels against the virus have a higher chance of getting MS. In addition, this study shows that the EBV risk factor (IM and antibodies to the virus) interact with the presence of genes that increase or decrease your risk of getting MS. This means that EBV may be triggering an immune response that causes MS."

"This study confirms my conviction that we need to do a larger study to see how EBV and the other risk factors interact with each other."

"It also confirms my conviction that we need to do a study of a anti-EBV drug in MS."

Additional reading: IM, EBV, EBNA1, HLA

Other relevant posts on this blog on EBV and MS:

19 Jul 2011
"This study uses a technique to detect DNA in the blood of MS'ers; you can be EBV DNA negative and still have the virus. The way we assess past exposure is detecting antibodies to the virus. This explains why not quite ...
11 Jul 2011
If you are exposed to EBV for this first time as a teenager or adult you are more likely to develop infectious mononucleosis or glandular fever; this is referred to as symptomatic EBV infection. ...
11 Jul 2011
"This study provides a hint that vitamin D supplementation that results in higher blood vitamin D levels many suppress EBV within the body. Interesting? We think very interesting and trying to work out how EBV and ...
07 Jul 2011
Sunlight, Vitamin D and EBV. More about the environmental risk factors that increase susceptibility to MS. "What we now need is a study to integrate these risk factors. Would you be interested in participating?" ...
17 Jun 2011
Results of the EBV survey. "Wow, I am surprised. Finally something must be getting through. THANK YOU!!!" Posted by Gavin Giovannoni at 23:13 ยท Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz ...
29 Apr 2011
RESULTS: Children diagnosed with MS were more likely than those with monophasic ADS, i.e. non-MS, to be seropositive for remote EBV infection (37/49 vs 82/185, p<0.001) but not for CMV (7/33 vs 37/97, p=0.09), ...
17 Apr 2011
PwMS rarely have antibodies against EBV that are produced within the brain and spinal cord. Some antibodies are produced but are part of the general immune response that occurs in MS. Only rarely are anti-EBV antibodies ...
01 Jun 2011
"Is there sufficient data to support EBV as being the cause of MS? Clearly, further research is required to disprove the hypothesis. Is it premature and irresponsible to make claims of causation? People with MS feel that ...

Etc. Search term "EBV"