Epstein-Barr virus may increase risk of multiple sclerosis

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 05 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:731
  1. Scott Gottlieb
  1. New York

    Evidence is mounting that infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which can cause mononucleosis, may also increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis later in life.

    Previous studies have established a link between the viral illness and multiple sclerosis (JAMA 2001;286:3083-8), and now in a new study, investigators have discovered that people with the highest levels of antibodies directed against EBV—possibly indicating a history of severe infection—were more than 30 times as likely to develop multiple sclerosis later in life than those with the fewest antibodies (JAMA 2003;289:1533-6).

    EBV is an extremely common type of herpes virus, with more than 90% of …

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