Autoimmune Diseases: Solve the Epstein

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Autoimmune Diseases: Solve the Epstein
Autoimmune Diseases: Solve the Epstein

Does the Epstein-Barr virus cause multiple sclerosis?

It is possible that the infection with the Epstein-Barr virus - among other things the cause of glandular fever - has hitherto unknown late effects and could trigger multiple sclerosis in those affected 15 to 20 years after the initial infection.

Scientists have long suspected that the risk of the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS) can be influenced by external factors. This assumption is now supported by the results of a study by physicians led by Gerald DeLorenze from the research department of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. To do this, they used data from a large-scale study from 1965 to 1974, in which the participants' blood was drawn and frozen as part of a he alth plan. Between 1995 and 1999, 42 of the test persons at that time were selected who had meanwhile developed MS. The doctors took blood from them again and compared it with samples from three other test persons who matched those of the MS patients in terms of age and gender.

The main focus of the new blood count analysis was on the determination of antibodies against the Epstein-Barr virus, since these endogenous proteins can provide information about the degree of infection with certain pathogens. And indeed, the concentration of antibodies against the Epstein-Barr virus in the blood samples of the MS patients was significantly higher than in those of the he althy comparison persons: with values four times higher, the risk of the previously incurable nervous disease apparently doubled. As a rule, 15 to 20 years elapsed after the measurements between the first detection of elevated antibody levels and the first signs of MS.

The exact link between the Epstein-Barr pathogen and multiple sclerosis is not yet known to scientists. But there is increasing evidence that the virus, which belongs to the herpes family, can increasingly trigger autoimmune diseases. It is also suspected of being involved in the development of lupus erythematosus (butterfly itch).

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