Altered antibody pattern to Epstein-Barr virus but not to other herpesviruses in multiple sclerosis: a population based case-control study from western Norway

K M Myhr, T Riise, E Barrett-Connor, H Myrmel, C Vedeler, M Grønning, M B Kalvenes, H Nyland
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 1998, 64 (4): 539-42

OBJECTIVE: The prevalence of anti-EBV antibodies was studied in a group of 144 patients with multiple sclerosis and 170 age, sex, and area matched controls from the county of Hordaland, western Norway. The prevalence of three other herpesviruses, herpes simplex virus (HSV), varicella zoster virus (VZV), and cytomegalovirus (CMV), were also included.

METHODS: Antibodies to various virus antigens were determined by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and indirect immunfluorescence (IIF) in serum samples from 144 patients with multiple sclerosis and 170 controls.

RESULTS: All of the 144 patients with multiple sclerosis had IgG antibodies to EBV compared with 162 of 170 controls (p=0.008). The frequency of IgG antibodies to EBV capsid antigen (VCA), nuclear antigen (EBNA), and early antigen (EA) was significantly higher in patients with multiple sclerosis compared with the controls (p<0.000001, p=0.01, and p<0.0001 respectively). The presence of antibodies was independent of the initial course of the disease and the disease activity at the time of blood sampling. The prevalence of IgG antibodies to HSV, CMV, and VZV did not differ between cases and controls.

CONCLUSION: The results suggest a role for EBV in the aetiology of multiple sclerosis.

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