The onset of an acute demyelinating disease (postinfectious encephalomyelitis) occurs after a number of different infections such as measles and mumps as well as smallpox vaccination. About one quarter of these cases diagnosed as postinfectious encephalomyelitis end up with a diagnosis of MS. This naturally raised the theory that viruses might be the cause of MS. Over the years, research has implicated many infectious agents, such as the measles virus (and other paramyxoviruses), distemper, the T-cell leukemia virus, as well as certain bacteria, as possible environmental factors. For the most part, they have been discarded. No single infection is known to cause MS.
40. What does herpes (virus) have to do with MS?
The herpes families of viruses are DNA viruses that once inside our bodies persist for the rest of our lives. Although herpes simplex type I (HSV-1) and type II (HSV-2) can live in neurons and seem to be protected by them, there is no evidence that they or another family of herpes viruses (cytomegaloviruses) have any potential role in the causation or reactivation of MS. Although another herpes virus (the chickenpox or zoster virus) can cause demyelination in rare circumstances, this virus has no demonstrated role in MS. In the last few years, attention has turned to other herpes viruses, specifically the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and herpes simplex virus 6 (HSV-6).
41. My doctor told me that I have antibody to the Epstein-Barr virus. Why do I have this antibody if I have MS?
All of us encounter the EBV at some point in our lives. The very young and the old may not have any
Distemper illness in dogs and cats caused by the measles like distemper paramyxovirus of the same name. T-cell a subset of lymphocytes developing in the thymus. Killer T-cell is the common term for a cytotoxic T-cell. Bacteria microscopic infectious organisms that cause a variety of diseases in humans and other species.
Cytomegaloviruses a family of herpes viruses that inhabit the urinary tract of almost all humans.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
a member of the herpes virus family and one of the most common human viruses.
Myelin basic protein a structural protein of myelin. It is the most potent protein capable of stimulating the immune system.
symptoms accompanying their infection, but adolescents and young adults characteristically experience marked fatigue and have large lymph glands with the infection. Antibody levels in most infected people fall and may seem to disappear over a long period of time. However, many patients with MS have higher than normal levels of antibody (including so-called "early" antibodies to this virus as well as many other viruses and substances). It is generally accepted that this antibody appears to be due to a problem of the immune responses rather than evidence that the Epstein-Barr virus is playing a role in MS. Recently, some scientists have reported that one third of MS patients have virus antibody in their spinal fluid that is not present in others. The importance of this finding is uncertain. Other exciting work has shown immunologic cross-reactivity of MS patient's lymphocytes between EBV and a brain protein, myelin basic protein. This means that the human immune system reacting to a protein in the EBV virus can cross-react with a brain protein and produce myelin damage. No final conclusions about these findings have been reached.
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