Scientists, physicians, and those dealing with multiple sclerosis are faced with a mystery. The mystery: what triggers the body’s own immune system to attack the brain and spinal cord? The white scars on MRIs of newly diagnosed MS patients reveal evidence of inflammation dating back many years, long before the first symptoms appear. These revealing MRIs ask the question of whether other diseases are precursors to MS.
A recent study using data from millions of U.S. military recruits monitored over a 20-year period offer strong evidence for a viral connection to MS. The Epstein-Barr virus is thought to be a possible culprit, as detailed in the article published in Science’s “Longitudinal analysis reveals high prevalence of Epstein-Barr virus associated with multiple sclerosis.” The 20-year study suggests that infection with Epstein-Barr increases the likelihood of developing MS by more than 32-fold. No such connection was found with other similar viral infections.
Interestingly, serum levels of neurofilament light chain, a biomarker of neuroaxonal degeneration, increased only after an Epstein-Barr infection. While causality has not been proven, these findings suggest Epstein-Barr virus as the leading cause of MS.
We, at BeCare MS Link, find this study elucidating and hopeful. From a medical perspective, this research may lead to steps to prevent future MS infections.
Read the full article and study here.