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Scientists Find Strong Link Between MS and Epstein- Barr Virus

Scientists Find Strong Link Between MS and Epstein

United States:  After the exploration on the multiple sclerosis that has been rekindled by the possibility that the Epstein Barr contagion has a significant part in the autoimmune condition.

Researchers in Sweden and the United Kingdom now think they may have a better idea of how the virus, which also causes mononucleosis, may contribute to MS.

Mechanisms of Immune System Misfire

 “We are just starting to uncover the mechanisms that are involved in the link between Epstein-Barr Virus [EBV] and multiple sclerosis, but it has enormous implications for our understanding of autoimmune disease,” said Dr. Graham Taylor, the study’s senior author and an associate professor of tumor immunology at the University of Birmingham in England.

In a university news release, he said, “Our most recent research demonstrates that after Epstein-Barr virus infection, there is a great deal more immune system misdirection, or cross-reactivity than previously thought.”

 Taylor and colleagues examined blood samples from MS patients and contrasted them with blood drawn from individuals who had just recovered from an EBV-related illness, as they reported in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

Study Insights and Findings

 The immune system’s antibody reactions to the presence of EBV are under question. Previous studies have shown that EBNA1, an EBV-targeted blood antibody, also identifies certain proteins that are present in the central nervous system. This finding may provide an explanation for how EBV may ultimately lead to MS-linked damage.

In the latest study, Taylor’s group discovered that EBV also appears to stimulate T-cells, another important component of the immune system.

 MS and these T-cells may have an additional connection since they seem to detect certain brain proteins.

Taylor’s group reported finding these “cross-reactive” T-cells in blood samples from both MS patients and healthy individuals.

 The researchers hypothesized that variations in these cells’ behavior among individuals may contribute to the explanation of the EBV-MS relationship.

Cross-Reactivity and Potential Treatments

 “Our finding of cross-reactive T-cells in healthy subjects implies that it might be these cells’ capacity to enter the brain that matters in multiple sclerosis,” reasoned Dr. Olivia Thomas, the study’s main person and an assistant professor of neurology at the Swedish Karolinska Institute.

“We have shown that the human immune system cross-recognizes a much broader array of EBV and central nervous system proteins than previously thought, and that different cross-reactivity patterns exist,” Taylor added. “Knowing this will help identify which proteins are important in MS and may provide targets for future personalized therapies.”

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