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ECTRIMS 2022 | The role of Epstein-Barr virus in the pathogenesis of MS

Hans Lassmann, MD, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, comments on the role of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the etiology of multiple sclerosis (MS). Data from a recent study showed that virtually all cases of MS are preceded by EBV infection and that the risk of MS increases substantially following infection. Although a connection between EBV and MS has long been suspected, the mechanisms of how EBV is involved in MS pathogenesis are unclear. One hypothesis is that B-cells with latent EBV infection are present within the CNS of MS patients. When the virus is activated in latently infected cells and recognized by the specific T-cells triggers an EBV-directed immune response responsible for chronic inflammation. An alternative hypothesis is that EBV infection in B-cells changes the immune system and triggers an autoimmune reaction. Evidence supporting both mechanisms has been gathered over the last few years, but future studies still need to prove the hypotheses. This interview took place at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) Congress 2022 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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