Debating the role of Epstein-Barr virus in multiple sclerosis

November 29, 2022 – A January 2022 study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found strong evidence of a link between Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and multiple sclerosis (MS). But experts quoted in a November 21 Undark article were mixed on how big a role EBV plays.

One expert quoted in Undark called the study “striking” and another said it was “probably the strongest evidence to date of that link between EBV and MS.” But the article also noted that a host of factors—including genetics, low vitamin D, smoking, and childhood obesity—are known to affect people’s risk of MS. And some experts quoted wondered if stress or trauma play a key role.

“In all diseases you have a combination of risk factors,” said Alberto Ascherio, senior author of the Harvard Chan School study. But even if other genetic and environmental factors need to work in concert with EBV to result in MS, “it means that if you eliminate the virus, you don’t get the disease,” he said.

Read the Undark article: Scientists Debate the Role of a Virus in Multiple Sclerosis