Multiple sclerosis linked to variant of common herpes virus through new method

Multiple sclerosis linked to variant of common herpes virus through new method

Publication date: Nov 27, 2019

Credit: Marvin 101/Wikipedia Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have developed a new method to separate between two types of a common herpes virus (HHV-6) that has been linked to multiple sclerosis (MS).

By analyzing antibodies in the blood against the most divergent proteins of herpesvirus 6A and 6B, the researchers were able to show that MS patients carry the herpesvirus 6A to a greater extent than healthy individuals.

But since it hasn’t been possible to tell the two variants apart post-infection, it has been difficult to say whether HHV-6A or B is a risk factor for MS. In this study, however, the researchers were able to distinguish between the A and B virus by analyzing antibodies in the blood against the proteins-immediate early protein 1A and 1B (IE1A and IE1B)-that diverge the most between the two viruses.

The researchers compared antibody levels in blood samples of some 8,700 MS patients against more than 7,200 healthy people whose gender, date of birth, date of blood sample and other factors matched those with MS. They concluded that people with MS had a 55 percent higher risk of carrying antibodies against the HHV-6A protein than the control group.

HHV-6B, on the other hand, was not positively associated with MS. Instead MS patients had lower levels of antibodies toward IE1B than those without MS. Antibodies toward Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), another herpes virus that is also associated with MS, were analyzed with the same method, and the researchers were able to show that individuals affected with both viruses had an even greater risk of MS. This indicates that several virus infections could be acting jointly to increase the risk of MS. “Both HHV-6A and 6B can infect our brain cells, but they do it in slightly different ways.

Concepts Keywords
Antibodies Antibodies
Antibody Neuroscience
Autoimmune LANA
Blood Herpes virus
Brain Herpes simplex
Central Nervous System Roseola
Control Group Human herpesvirus 6
Demyelination Pediatrics
Epstein Barr Virus RTT
Fair Dealing Betaherpesvirinae
Gender Viral diseases
Herpes Herpesviridae
Herpesvirus Viruses
Immune System Attack Separate common herpes
Immunology Onset disease
Infection Multiple sclerosis
Karolinska Institutet MS
Lesion Variants post infection
Multiple Sclerosis
Risk Factor
Viral Infection


Type Source Name
disease MESH development
disease MESH Demyelination
disease MESH Multiple sclerosis
disease MESH autoimmune disease
disease MESH infection
disease MESH risk factor
disease MESH viral infection


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