Research Reveals Another Possible Epstein-Barr Virus Link to MS

Research Reveals Another Possible Epstein-Barr Virus Link to MS


For years researchers have believed a link exists between the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and multiple sclerosis. But scientists have had a hard time finding a precise association.

Now, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are reporting another possible connection. Researchers at the Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center have found a viral protein in EBV-infected cells. They think that the protein may turn on a “switch” that activates genes that are associated with an increased risk of autoimmune diseases. MS, of course, is an autoimmune disease.

Most people are infected with EBV. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s one of the most common human viruses. It usually appears in early childhood and its symptoms are generally very mild or don’t appear at all. But the EBV infection remains with people.

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Scientists know that the EBV infection can produce a protein called EBNA2. In this new research, they found that EBNA2 activates some of the human genes associated with the risk of lupus and several other autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis. Simply put, it flips that autoimmune disease “switch.”

“These findings suggest that EBV infection in cells can actually drive the activation of these genes and contribute to an individual’s risk of developing the disease,” said lead researcher John B. Harley, MD, PhD, in an NIH news release.

And that means more hope for new MS treatments and maybe even a cure.

Daniel Rotrosen, MD, director of the Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, added that “now that we understand how EBV infection may contribute to autoimmune diseases in some people, researchers may be able to develop therapies that interrupt or reverse this process.”

Wouldn’t that be nice?

The journal Nature Genetics published the detailed research findings.

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  1. Rhonda Danielson says:

    Interesting; however, how viable is this?#peopleb4profits. we need an MS CURE. no more dmts, no more drug co profits at the expense of my/our life & health. we need a CURE. we need it today, not “tomorrow/someday”.

    • Dorothy Levinson says:

      My husband was diagnosed in 1969. I read an article in our newspaper that said MS cure prediicted by 1972. Forty-eight years later I am still waiting for a cure. How did this country go so wrong with the health of our nation’s people. The drug companies charge so much that many people cannnot afford the medicine they need. Many medicines can have terrible side effects but are fast tracked for sale to the public. Billions of dollars have been
      collected to find cures for many diseases. Where are the cures? Greed has taken over our country and we want americans to matter again

      • Tracy Madera says:

        I believe it’s the government that controls everything. They control the drug companies the dr’s get a kick back on the meds they push and right. And as a MS WARRIOR for the last 17 years and I’m only gonna be 44 in a week I know and you know and all the dr’s know and for sure the drug companies know dealing with all we deal with we can’t function without meds yet the meds are killing our Bodies not to mention all the rx drug addictions and deaths. This country has been spinning out of control for a very long time. Yet nothing is being done nor as regular citizens our hands are kinda tied to. Unless the country would come together as one and take our country back. Sorry to hear about ur husband

        • Barb says:

          I too believe our gov’t has a lot to do with it, AND the drug companies and “Big Pharma”, as ‘they’ call it… :'(

          • tamie leahy says:

            Your right barb! the MS society and big pharma make so much money off the drugs they are giving the MS patients that are not helping but killing them off. I have a Personal family member that has greatly helped MS called prokarin, Elaine DeLack come up with a more natural formula that was helping ms patients, she has ms and since taking her own formula she has been very healthy, but because she could never afford the millions to get it pattened? They all shut her down like a little mouse! And she did all the studies and everything she was to do and still she was not able to get it pushed threw between pharma, and the Ms society, i just had a friend told me yesterday her sister in law 58, passed the drugs killed her, by weakning her heart and other parts of her body, just sickning no need for this!!!

      • Eileen Maloney says:

        You are so right…. Hmmm, a cure? Well, I think these major drug companies don’t want that to happen, then where will they be?

      • cheryl says:

        I have been saying the same thing for 38 years. It’s a scam from the major drug companies. A cure would mean a great loss of money for them.

  2. Linda Phillips says:

    It’s very nice research, another virus that triggers MS…..I believe that people with certain genes relating to autoimmune diseases, when their vitamin d levels are low, and they become under stress or attack from any virus or bacteria, can develop MS or any other autoimmune disease……haven’t yet worked out why one disease is activated over another, or in most cases, people have more than one autoimmune disease …….example …..a lot of people with MS have psoriasis……just my opinion ……….

  3. Barry Bowser says:

    I think I will be diagnosed with MS How do I get the blood test. I am a veteran. I do want this long drawn out process to continue.

    • Ed Tobias says:

      Hi Barry,

      I think your question about a blood test and your diagnosis are better asked of your neurologist. Unfortunately, MS isn’t an easy disease to diagnose so it may take more time than you’d like.


    • DeAnna says:

      MRI of the brain and spinal cord I think is you best option. The spinal tap is NOT a very accurate indication bc a lot of people don’t show positive results even if they do have m.s.

      • BJ says:

        I will dealing with MS for 11 years as of July 2018. I had many tests – MRI of the brain – without and with contrast, spinal tap/lumbar puncture, blood work. The test that was able to confirm MS in comparison to the first diagnosis of a metastatic brain tumor was a PET Scan. Once confirmed, I was placed on a once-a-week injection of Avonex. Helped me to get back on track so that I am somewhat stable and able to function with the assistance of a cane when necessary. Blessings to all that struggle to fight this fight each and every day.

    • Janet Morgan says:

      Brain MRI good indicator, and must be read by expert. Johnson’s criteria is a baseline, and has further been updated with mores specific details and descriptions of lesions. Also spine MRI. Look for lesions in both.

  4. Sally Bartczak says:

    I am Sally Bartczak I have MS since I was 24 years old. I had two children and pregnant with my third child. After having her I had three more children and felt so good being pregnant with no symptoms of MS !
    After I could not get pregnant do to my age I have had many symptoms. Why?

      • Peggy says:

        I believe there is a connection between MS and the Epstein Barr virus. Along wirh stress. I am 1 of 7 children but the only 1that has MS And had this virus in college.

    • Bartłomiej says:

      Estriol produced intensively during third trimester has very important role in this case. It protects organism from MS.

    • Janet Morgan says:

      I believe that it has to do with Prolactin. I was “blessed” with a Prolatctinoma -a pituitary tumor producing pregnancy hormone Prolactin – it helps with remylenization. Unfortunately research only in rats. My tumor “burned out” and now signs of MS. I strangely wish for my 20 year protecting tumor back! Still in process of MS Diagnosis…HUMAN TRIAL/PHARMA PROLACTIN TREATMENT WELCOME!

  5. Marion Wilcken says:

    I’ve MS for 7yrs…I will be 71 next month. MS is in my family history…My Dad and my younger sister. As I look back probably 10 yrs. before it became full blown in 1 day I did have symptoms on and off..severe dizzy spells, fatigue, optic neuritis in 1 eye and the last left sided weakness.
    I had the flu shot and about 6 weeks later 1 day at work numbness started in my feet and by the end of the day it was up to my epstein-barr. Long story short I was in the hospital for 1 month ( no diagnosis) A year and a half later found the right neuro and got my diagnosis. I always wish I had never had the flu shot!

  6. Eliza More says:

    I find this very interesting. I was diagnosised with EBV in college, was very sick for several months slept like 18 hours a day. My then boyfriend had no problems at all…fast forward 8 years he was diagnosised with MS. Did he perhaps get EBV?? almost 20 yrs later and I have never had a relapse or anything maybe some fatigue thats it but he who never exhibited anything now has exacerbations occasionally.

    • Anon says:

      Yeh that’s ex’s grama had MS, I got MS while we were together, the girl after me got lupus!! Another ex’s aunt had MS, it’s def a virus combined w/genetics as many fam members have auto immunes…

      • hermitress says:

        You might want to check out the Medical Medium. I know the spirit connection threw me so I did not read any of his books. Then I happened upon an audio book of his and what he believes makes so much sense to me. Basically, this whole autoimmune everything is BS. Our bodies do not simply attack our cells. There is something in that invades our cells (virus, fungus, mold or bacteria) and that is what our bodies are attacking. I have never believed that our body is attacking itself. Period. He believes that there are over 60 versions of the Epstein-Barr virus and many of our so called chronic illnesses are different manifestation and stages of EBV. Mono is EBV also. Can’t hurt to read up on how to take care of EBV that almost all of us have lurking in our bodies. Also he has numerous free audio courses and seminars if you google Medical Medium.

  7. Catee says:

    15 years before MS reared uts ugly head I had a Epstein Barr test result hugher than any doctor had seen.
    I worked for a group of them who shared my numbers with fellow doctors abd none had ever seen numbers like mine. Lucky me
    I now have 5 autoimmune diseases. Still confusing doctors, medical anomoly as I have been called
    Took 26 doctors to dx that I was allergic to myself! Long story Stumped the CCF.

    • Ed Tobias says:

      Hi Catee,

      I’m sorry to hear of all that you’ve been through. But your attitude seems good. Maybe you should turn your “long story” it a book. :-).


  8. Carol Catania says:

    My daughter has MS. She was first diagnosed with Lyme disease, treated for Lyme and in the process of getting the Lyme disease diagnosis which she had(we still have the ticK)the Epstein Barr virus showed up on her testing. She was first diagnosed in 1996 for Lyme. Her doctor at UCLA treated her for a very long time,and during that time is when the EBV showed up in her lab work. Her MS is now in the progressive stage, she is wheelchair bound. Hoping and praying that the EBV discovery will lead to a cure.

      • Carol Catania says:

        Yes, she has considered Ocrevus. and debating about that. she would need another MRI ( she has had so many) that is one of the reasons she is holding back, plus the side effects. Thank you for your information and concern. Sincerely Carol

  9. Jami Wetzel says:

    I had mono when I was 10 years old and then again when I was 40. Prior to having mono at 40, I felt completely normal with plenty of energy. I was never the same after having mono the second time. My energy level was low after having mono. I was diagnosed with MS at age 43. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I became symptomatic for MS after having mono and that it was my turning point with my health.

  10. Marilyn says:

    This is so interesting. I was diagnosed with EBV in 1983. In 2007 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease….although NOT MS. I was so sick with the virus in 83, it took me 2 years to get my energy back. I’m very careful to not get stressed and also important….eat 3 meals a day but if I do go through a stressful time I make sure I get plenty of sleep. It seems to be working for me. I hope they can figure this out completely someday for our grandchildren’s sake. I have always felt the EBV was the beginning of all my problems. I believe it could have flipped a switch!

  11. Jilly says:

    I had never heard of the Epstien Barr virus until I got sick with MS. After a bit of study on the topic ESB virus was a hot topic for me. I had never heard of it before. It’s also known as the Kissing Disease (mono), that’s why it’s so common but not many people have even heard of it. I certainly didn’t know of it.
    But I beleive the ESB virus is responsible for many illnesses, as it lurks and hides until stress or trauma happens to you. I got MS after tramua due to 2011 earthquakes and the aftermath. To this day I am still in the aftermath. Anyway, those are my thoughts and thanks, good topic.

  12. Gary Cremin says:

    My partner used to have glandular fever.
    Interesting vitamin D is good for MS and it reduces EBV levels. Coincidence?
    EBV and smoking a common trigger for MS. I’ve stopped smoking now but its bad for EBV and MS too

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