May 13, 2004
Boston Cure Project
Several previous studies have described a link between upper respiratory infections (URIs) and MS attacks. However, no study has yet demonstrated the ability of any specific respiratory virus to trigger attacks. To help identify which virus or viruses might be capable of doing this, a small study followed 16 subjects with relapsing remitting MS and tracked any relapses and/or URIs experienced during the study period. Culture and RNA analysis of nasal swab specimens and antibody analysis of blood samples were performed to determine the presence of various viruses in each URI.
Analysis of the URI and relapse data revealed a significant association
between MS attacks and the presence of picornavirus RNA during URIs. Seven
of the nine attacks that occurred during a URI risk period coincided with
the detection of picornavirus RNA. Also, seven of the nine URIs associated
with picornavirus detection coincided with an MS attack. On the other hand,
only two of twelve picornavirus-negative URIs were associated with a relapse.
The authors of the study speculate on how picornaviruses might influence
MS exacerbations (induction of inflammatory cytokines? infection of the
brain itself?) but note that these findings first need to be independently
Copyright © 2004, Boston Cure Project