Posted by: Thixia | February 26, 2008

Epstein-Barr virus and MS

Integrating risk factors.
HLA-DRB1*1501 and Epstein-Barr virus in multiple sclerosis.


Individuals with high levels of antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) have an increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), but this association could be confounded by genetic susceptibility.


We conducted a nested case-control study including
148 women with MS (18 with blood collected before disease onset) and
296 age-matched healthy women

to determine whether the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) DRB1*1501 allele (DR15) and anti-Epstein-Barr virus (anti-EBV) antibody titers are independent risk factors for MS.

* Titers – The dilution of a serum containing a specific antibody at which the solution retains the minimum level of activity needed to neutralize or precipitate an antigen.


The association between anti-EBNA-1 antibody titers and MS risk was not affected by adjustment for DR15 and was similar in DR15-positive and DR15-negative women. The relative risk of MS among DR15-positive women with elevated (>1:320) anti-EBNA-1 titers was ninefold higher than that of DR15-negative women with low (<1:80) anti-EBNA-1 titers.


Anti-Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 1 (anti-EBNA-1) antibody titers are a risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS), independently from the DR15 allele. Carriers of the DR15 allele with elevated anti-EBNA-1 antibody titers may have a markedly increased risk of MS.

Center for Neurologic Diseases,
Department of Neurology (P.L.D.J., D.A.H.), and

Channing Laboratory,
Department of Medicine (A.A.),
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and
Harvard Medical School,
Harvard Medical School/Partners Healthcare Center for Genetics and Genomics (P.L.D.J., D.A.H.);
Broad Institute (P.L.D.J., J.D.R., D.A.H.),
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and
Harvard University, Cambridge;
Departments of Epidemiology (K.C.S., A.A.) and Nutrition (K.L.M., A.A.),
Harvard School of Public Health,
Cambridge, MA; and
University of Montreal (J.D.R.),
Montreal Heart Institute,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


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