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Multiple sclerosis

How strong is the link between Epstein Barr virus and MS?

Complete Epstein-Barr virus seropositivity in a large cohort of patients with early multiple sclerosis.

Abrahamyan S, Eberspächer B, Hoshi MM, et al.

JNNP 2020 (Online ahead of print).

Abstract

Objective

To determine the prevalence of antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in a large cohort of patients with early multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods

Serum samples were collected from 901 patients with a clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) or early relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) participating in the German National MS cohort, a prospective cohort of patients with early MS with stringent inclusion criteria. Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen (EBNA)-1 and viral capsid antigen (VCA) antibodies were measured in diluted sera by chemiluminescence immunoassays (CLIAs). Sera of EBNA-1 and VCA antibody-negative patients were retested undiluted by an EBV IgG immunoblot. For comparison, we retrospectively analysed the EBV seroprevalence across different age cohorts, ranging from 0 to >80 years, in a large hospital population (N=16 163) from Berlin/Northern Germany.

Results

EBNA-1 antibodies were detected by CLIA in 839 of 901 patients with CIS/RRMS. Of the 62 patients without EBNA-1 antibodies, 45 had antibodies to VCA as detected by CLIA. In all of the remaining 17 patients, antibodies to EBV were detected by immunoblot. Altogether, 901 of 901 (100%) patients with CIS/RRMS were EBV-seropositive. EBV seropositivity increased with age in the hospital population but did not reach 100% in any of the investigated age cohorts.

Conclusion

The complete EBV seropositivity in this large cohort of patients with early MS strengthens the evidence for a role of EBV in MS. It also suggests that a negative EBV serology in patients with suspected inflammatory central nervous system disease should alert clinicians to consider diagnoses other than MS.

This paper is cited in the Neurochecklist:

Multiple sclerosis (MS): non-modifiable risk factors

Abstract link

MRI scan. NIH Image Gallery on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nihgov/30805879596

By Ibrahim Imam

I am a UK Neurologist keen on general neurology, but with an interest in neuromuscular diseases. I maintain the neurology searchable database, www.neurochecklists.com. I also blog at www.theneurologylounge.com. I share and discuss current issues around clinical neurology. I hope you find my blogs enlightening, practical, and even entertaining.

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