More MS news articles for July 2000

Epstein-Barr virus reactivation associated with MS disease activity

WESTPORT, Jul 25 (Reuters Health) - Epstein-Barr virus may play an indirect role in activating the underlying disease process of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to data from a German study.

Dr. Klaus-Peter Wandinger of the University of Lubeck School of Medicine and associates measured the prevalence of antibodies against herpesviruses, including Epstein-Barr virus, in the sera of 108 MS patients and 163 healthy control subjects. Antibodies against Epstein-Barr virus were present in 100% of the MS patients and in 90.1% of the control subjects.

In results reported in the July 25th issue of Neurology, serologic signs of primary Epstein-Barr virus infection were noted in 3.7% of healthy control subjects and in none of the MS patients. According to the researchers, this indicates that Epstein-Barr virus infection is a prerequisite for MS rather than a consequence of the disease.

The investigators also prospectively followed 19 MS patients monthly for 1 year. Increased immunoglobulin M and A responses to Epstein-Barr virus early antigens and positive serum DNA were observed in 72.7% of patients with exacerbation's during the study period. No Epstein-Barr virus DNA could be amplified from the sera of clinically stable MS patients.

The authors theorize that Epstein-Barr virus reactivation may be indirectly involved in MS pathogenesis. They also note that recent study findings indicate that exacerbations are significantly reduced in MS patients treated with acyclovir. Taken together, these data "suggest that a reduction of Epstein-Barr virus replication in treated patients might likewise have influenced the outcome of the trial."

Neurology 2000;55:178-184.