Epstein-Barr virus in multiple sclerosis

J Egypt Public Health Assoc. 2014 Aug;89(2):90-5. doi: 10.1097/01.EPX.0000452287.65133.fc.


Background/objectives: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disorder of the central nervous system. Many diseases are associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, such as infectious mononucleosis and many types of malignancies, and it is thought to be related to some diseases of autoimmune origin, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosis, and others. The present study aimed to assess EBV in patients with MS.

Patients and methods: This case-control study was conducted from October 2012 to September 2013 on 75 MS patients and non-MS controls. Both were tested quantitatively for immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies against Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen-1 (EBNA1) and viral capsid antigen (VCA) using the enzyme linked immunosorbent assay technique.

Results: Seventy MS patients (93.3%) were positive for EBNA1 IgG compared with 68 controls (90.7%). In MS patients, the mean EBNA1 IgG serum level was 310.91 (±131.05) U/ml; meanwhile, among controls the mean serum EBNA IgG level was 177.81 (±104.98) U/ml.All patients with MS were positive for VCA IgG, whereas only 60 (80.0%) controls were positive. In the MS group, the VCA IgG mean level was 302.19 (±152.11) U/ml compared with 167.94 (±111.79) U/ml in controls. The differences in the serum levels of both markers between the two groups were statistically significant (P<0.001).

Conclusion and recommendations: EBV proved to have a unique immunological pattern in MS patients when compared with non-MS controls. Further studies for more confirmation of the relation between EBV and MS on a large scale are recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigens / blood
  • Female
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / virology*
  • Smoking / blood
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigens
  • Immunoglobulin G