Epstein-Barr virus and Multiple Sclerosis

The Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) has released a one-page information sheet highlighting the relationship between Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and multiple sclerosis (MS). EBV, a prevalent virus affecting up to 95% of the global population, has long been a subject of interest in MS research.

The summary provides a concise overview of the EBV and MS connection, emphasising that while EBV is a common virus, it alone is insufficient to cause MS. However, at least 99% of people with MS have been infected with EBV. The risk of developing MS is elevated in individuals who have previously experienced infectious mononucleosis, a severe EBV-related illness.

The document also explores the ongoing research into how EBV might trigger MS. It discusses the concept of molecular mimicry, where the immune system mistakenly targets brain molecules resembling parts of EBV. Additionally, the information sheet raises questions about the interaction between EBV and other risk factors like smoking, obesity, and vitamin D levels.

The possibility of EBV vaccination for MS prevention is addressed, acknowledging the need for further research and long-term monitoring. Researchers are exploring antiviral therapies and clinical trials focused on targeting EBV in individuals with MS, potentially offering new treatment avenues.

Further Information

MSIF Information Statement on EBV and MS

One-page Summary on EBV and MS