United Arab Emirates scientists have found active Epstein-Barr virus in many multiple sclerosis patients’ brain cells, supporting the notion that it plays a role in the disease.
The team found it in two types of brain cells — astrocytes and microglia. The virus can be active or lie dormant in the body.
Researchers’ study, “Epstein-Barr virus is present in the brain of most cases of multiple sclerosis and may engage more than just B cells,” appeared in the journal PLoS ONE. A team at United Arab Emirates University led the work.
Epstein-Barr, a member of the herpes family, is one of the most common human viruses.
The researchers had already found it in the three membranes covering the brain and spinal cord of MS patients. In fact, they found it in 35 percent of MS cases, they reported.
They wanted to know if they could find the virus in MS patients’ brain cells and, if so, what role it played.
Their study involved examining brain tissue samples and DNA of two sets of people who had died: 101 with MS and 21 with other neurodegenerative disorders.
Altogether, they looked at 1,055 specimens — 615 of brain tissue and 440 of DNA.
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