Harvard Study Finds That Epstein-Barr Virus Is Possibly The Leading Cause Of Multiple Sclerosis!
: A new study by led researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has discovered that the Epstein-Barr Virus could possibly be the leading cause of multiple sclerosis!
Multiple sclerosis or MS is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system of unknown etiology. It is a condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance. It's a lifelong condition that can sometimes cause serious disability, although it can occasionally be mild.
The study team tested the hypothesis that MS is caused by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in a cohort comprising more than 10 million young adults on active duty in the US military, 955 of whom were diagnosed with MS during their period of service.
Alarmingly the study findings showed that risk of MS increased 32-fold after infection with EBV but was not increased after infection with other viruses, including the similarly transmitted cytomegalovirus. Serum levels of neurofilament light chain, a biomarker of neuroaxonal degeneration, increased only after EBV seroconversion.
These study findings cannot be explained by any known risk factor for MS and suggest EBV as the leading cause of MS.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Science.
Multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive disease that affects more than 2.8 million people worldwide and for which there is no definitive cure. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33174475/
Interestingly, during the last two years as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the incidence of both EBV and also MS is both growing.
Some studies have showed that the SARS-CoV-2 infections and even COVID-19 vaccines reactivates dormant EBV in certain individuals while other studies show that SARS-CoV-2 causes immune deficiency leading to more opportunistic secondary infections including EBV.
This new study is the first to show that EBV could be the cause of MS.
Dr Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study told Thailand Medical News, "The hypothesis that EBV causes MS has been investigated by our group and others for several years, but this is the first study providing compelling evidence of causality. This is a big step because it suggests that most MS cases could be prevented by stopping EBV infection, and that targeting EBV could lead to the discovery of a cure for MS."
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that attacks the myelin sheaths protecting neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Its c
ause is not known, yet one of the top suspects is EBV, a herpes virus that can cause infectious mononucleosis and establishes a latent, lifelong infection of the host.
However, establishing a causal relationship between the virus and the disease has been difficult to date because EBV infects approximately 95% of adults, MS is a relatively rare disease, and the onset of MS symptoms begins about ten years after EBV infection.
In order to determine the connection between EBV and MS, the study team conducted a study among more than 10 million young adults on active duty in the U.S. military and identified 955 who were diagnosed with MS during their period of service.
The EBV-Multiple Sclerosis
study team analyzed serum samples taken biennially by the military and determined the soldiers' EBV status at time of first sample and the relationship between EBV infection and MS onset during the period of active duty. In this cohort, the risk of MS increased 32-fold after infection with EBV but was unchanged after infection with other viruses. Serum levels of neurofilament light chain, a biomarker of the nerve degeneration typical in MS, increased only after EBV infection.
The study findings cannot be explained by any known risk factor for MS and suggest EBV as the leading cause of MS.
Dr Ascherio says that the delay between EBV infection and the onset of MS may be partially due the disease's symptoms being undetected during the earliest stages and partially due to the evolving relationship between EBV and the host's immune system, which is repeatedly stimulated whenever latent virus reactivates.
Dr Ascherio added, "Currently there is no way to effectively prevent or treat EBV infection, but an EBV vaccine or targeting the virus with EBV-specific antiviral drugs could ultimately prevent or cure MS."
The study team also included other Harvard Chan School researchers such as Dr Kjetil Bjornevik, Dr Marianna Cortese, Dr Michael Mina, and Dr Kassandra Munger.
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