Epstein-Barr Virus Linked to MS Progression

Recent studies by researchers at the University at Buffalo and at the University of Trieste in Italy have provided some evidence that the Epstein-Barr virus or EBV may have a role in the neurodegeneration that is typical in people with multiple sclerosis. The Epstein-Barr virus is one of the most common viruses found in humans and is known to cause infectious mononucleosis or glandular fever. Past infection with EBV may have a role in the severity of MS later on.

The study involved 135 participants diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the Multiple Sclerosis Center of the University of Trieste. The MRI scans of the group of MS patients were evaluated at the University of Trieste as well as at the Jacob’s Neurological Institute (JNI) at the University at Buffalo.

According to Dr. Robert Zivadinov, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurology in UB’s Jacobs Neurological Institute (JNI), "This study is one of the first to provide evidence that a viral agent may be related to the severity of MS disease process, as measured by MRI". Dr. Zivadinov is also the first author on the said study.

In the said study, the Buffalo researchers measured the total brain volume as well as the decrease in gray matter from baseline up to three years later. The results that the researchers obtained showed that patients with higher levels of EBV antibody at the beginning of the study were also those who had an increased loss of gray matter and total brain volume over the three year follow up period.

The study will now be investigating further the relationship between EBV antibody levels to the development of gray matter atrophy, neurocognitive function and the progression of disability over time.

Source: University at Buffalo. "Epstein-Barr Virus May Be Associated With Progression Of Multiple Sclerosis." ScienceDaily 2 March 2009. 10 March 2009.

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