We designed a large multicentric study to analyse the presence of MSRV particles in blood and CSF of a large cohort of patients and controls from different European areas. 149 MS patients and 153 neurological and healthy controls were selected from Sardinia, Spain, Northern-Italy and Sweden. To avoid biological and inter-assay variability MSRV was detected within a single laboratory through nested and real-time PCR assays specific for pol and env genes. MSRV detection in blood and CSF of MS patients and controls in populations of different ethnicity gave significant differences (p<0.05 compared to neurological controls and <0.001 compared to healthy controls). The presence and viral load of MSRV are significantly associated with MS as compared to neurological and healthy controls in all ethnic groups.
Keywords: HERV-W; MSRV; human endogenous retrovirus; multiple sclerosis.