More MS news articles for June 2002

Multiple sclerosis exacerbations and infection

[IMPORTANT: It has been shown on numerous occasions that you cannot catch multiple sclerosis from someone with the disease. This is eloquently demonstrated by these two population studies:
What this review paper is discussing is whether MS is a response in susceptible individuals to a common disease that you can catch from anyone and not just people with MS. It is quite possible, perhaps even likely, that you are less likely to catch this common disease from people with MS than from the ordinary population.]

01 July 2002
Volume 1, Number 3
Donald H Gilden
Department of Neurology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 4200 E 9th Ave, Denver, CO 80262, USA.

Epidemiological and genetic studies suggest that demyelination—the predominant pathological feature of multiple sclerosis (MS)—is caused by an exogenous agent, perhaps a virus or a virus-induced immunopathology.

Alternatively, MS may be autoimmune.

While the two theories are not mutually exclusive, definitive evidence that MS is infectious or autoimmune is lacking.

However, epidemiological evidence shows that MS is acquired early in life.

Furthermore, there is about a 70% disconcordance of MS among monozygotic twins, suggesting that an exogenous factor causes the disease.

These two observations, together with the detection of oligoclonal bands (OGBs) found almost exclusively in infectious diseases of the nervous system (eg, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), cryptococcal meningitis, neurosyphilis, mumps, meningitis, and chronic rubella panencephalitis), support the notion that MS may be infectious.

Analysis of the oligoclonal IgG specificity in these diseases has revealed that the IgG is directed against the agent that causes disease.1 Even in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis the OGBs in CSF have been shown to be directed against Mycobacterium tuberculosis,2 the active agent in the adjuvant used to recruit immunocytes during induction of the disease.

Thus it is possible, and even probable, that the OGBs in the CSF from patients with MS represent antibodies directed against antigens that cause the disease.