Epstein-Barr virus (EPV) infections contribute to the development of multiple sclerosis. The evidence of the long-suspected role of the virus in the disease is recent history: only a couple of years ago, in fact, the Italian team Alberto Ascherio from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health showed on Science how EPV was necessary, although not sufficient, to cause multiple sclerosis. Today, thanks to the work published on pages Of Pnaswe know something more about how the virus is linked to the disease: the response of T lymphocytes against EBV could play a key role.
by Anna Lisa Bonfranceschi
The study itself concerns a small sample of people with MS, but it is interesting because it focuses on patients still in the diagnosis phase, therefore in the initial stages of the disease. It was conducted by a team of researchers led by Assaf Gottlieb And J. William Lindsey of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, who analyzed the cerebrospinal fluid of eight patients. Cerebrospinal fluid flows into the central nervous system and helps protect and support it. However, it can also be one window relatively easy to access (with a lumbar puncture for example), the authors write, to understand how the central nervous system is doing, and in this case what happens in the early stages of the disease.
by Sandro Iannaccone
The idea, in detail, was to understand which “enemies” (from EBV, to influenza, or candida) the immune system of people who were receiving the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis responded in a particular way. To do this, they took samples of cerebrospinal fluid and blood from the patients, stimulated their cells with different antigens, and performed sequencing to understand the responses of the T lymphocytes. The results thus showed that the T lymphocytes of MS patients they are particularly ready to respond to EBV-infected B lymphocytes deriving from the same patient (which preferentially affects these cells) more than they are towards the other pathogens tested, explain the authors. And this was true for both blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples.
by Mara Magistroni
The marked presence of immune cells specific for EBV-infected lymphocytes in the initial stages of the disease could be linked to the pathogenesis of the disease, we read in the study, and to the immune disruption that characterizes it. And it would help explain why EBV is so closely related to multiple sclerosis, although more research will be needed to better understand the nature of this relationship.