Research:Beta Interferon and Viruses (EBV, HERV)

R
EpubPetersen et al. Effects of interferon-beta therapy on elements in the antiviral immune response towards the human herpesviruses EBV, HSV, and VZV, and to the human endogenous retroviruses HERV-H and HERV-W in multiple sclerosis. J Neuroimmunol. 2012 May 16.

Effects of treatment of MSers with IFN-β on elements of the antiviral immune response to herpesviruses were analysed in a longitudinal study. These investigators found significantly increased seroreactivity (antibodies) to EBV EBNA-1, and to VZV (Varicella-Zoster or chicken pox virus), in patients who did not respond to IFN-β therapy. We found no significant changes in seroreactivity to EBV EA (early antigen), or to HSV (herpes simplex virus, cold sores or genital herpes). For the same MS cohort, they have previously demonstrated significant decreases in seroreactivities to envelope antigens for the two human endogenous retroviruses HERV-H and HERV-W, closely linked to efficacy of therapy. They further searched for correlations between seroreactivities to EBV, HSV, and VZV, and levels of mannan-binding lectin (MBL), and MBL-associated serine protease 3. They found no such correlations. Their results are in accord with recent reports of increased seroreactivity to EBV EBNA-1, and to VZV in active MS, and support the herpesviruses EBV and VZV together with HERV-H/HERV-W and the antiviral immune response may play a role in MS development.

Interferons are molecules that prevent viral replication; i.e. they are antivirals, which is why they were tried in MS. These results give us a clue to why interferons may work in MS and what the triggers are that cause MS. This is why we are so interested in testing anti-viral agents in MS. Please see the page on the blog on the Charcot Project.”

Interferon signalling cascade – it’s very complicated.

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

4 comments

  • EBV causes IM I think (the kissing disease) in adolescents and most people would remember having it then, but I don't think it causes such symptoms in children. Do you know whether anyone who had IM in their teens goes onto develop MS, or did the infection have to happen earlier when it would not have been picked up, or could you have it in childhood and a recurrence as a teenager. Really I'm asking whether it matters when you get the EBV infection.

  • I got chicken pox 2 days after finishing my last A-level exam when I was 17-years-old. Ten years later I started to develop PPMS.

    Can this be related? I read another bloke's account of getting chicken pox as an adult and he too went on to develop PPMS.

  • Dear Beverley
    There is evidence for increased risk of MS if you had mono and and it does seem to make a difference when you get infected with EBV…as most of us are.

  • Dear Anon 12.03
    There have been a number of studies trying to link chickenpox to MS, but the larger studies tend to suggest that it is not related.

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