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New Research: How EBV May Trigger MS

May 19, 2023

New research shows one possible way that the Epstein Barr virus (EBV) could trigger MS. A research team from Sweden looked at blood samples from 713 people with MS and 722 people without MS. The results showed that 23% of those with MS had antibodies in their blood that reacted to both a protein on EBV and to a protein found in the brain and spinal cord, while only 7% of people without MS had these “cross reactive” antibodies.  

Other studies have identified other potential cross-reactivities to molecules in the brain and spinal cord and components of EBV. If this triggers immune activity misdirected against the body’s own brain and spinal cord tissues, it may contribute to inflammation and damage, bringing on MS in those who are susceptible.

Why does this matter? This study adds to growing evidence about the likely role of EBV in triggering MS when other MS risk factors are present. Ongoing research should help decipher the mechanisms of how EBV is involved and how they may be different among individuals. 

Read more about this study from Karolinska Institutet
Read the study in Science Advances
Read about the complex link between MS and EBV from Momentum Magazine
Watch a webinar, Ask an MS Expert: The Role of Epstein-Barr Virus in MS

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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