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I said it 14 months ago, now researchers agree: MS is linked to ‘mono’

Great news. Science now backs my view, published here on July 14 last year, that MS is linked to glandular fever. The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) causes mononucleosis or just mono, otherwise known as glandular fever. Researchers have just uncovered what they describe as a biological link between EBV and MS.

Fourteen months ago, in this blog, I posted an article titled MS is linked to Glandular Fever, I have no doubt: In it, I wrote:

“In my mind, MS is linked to glandular fever. From personal experience, there is no room for doubt of any kind.

“Trouble is, though, that my experience and belief is not proof. And that is why I find that efforts to establish a definite link between glandular fever, often known as the kissing disease, and MS is an exciting area of research.”

And that’s what they have now done.

biological link

Dr Annette Langer-Gould (pic: Kaiser Permanente Research).

Researchers led by Dr Annette Langer-Gould1 have now found a link between EBV and MS in three racial-ethnic groups. African-Americans and Latinos showing a higher risk for MS than Caucasians.

The research study, “Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and multiple sclerosis susceptibility,” was published in the journal Neurology.

In the past, other studies have suggested that EBV infection, which causes mononucleosis/glandular fever, increases the risk for MS.

Strong biological link

“Previous studies that have found a link between mononucleosis and MS have looked primarily at white populations, so for our study, we examined whether there was a similar link for other racial groups as well,” Dr Langer-Gould said in a press release. “Indeed, we did find a strong biological link for all three racial groups.

“While many people had Epstein-Barr virus antibodies in their blood, we found among all three groups, people who also developed mono in their teen years or later had a greater risk of MS. Delaying Epstein-Barr virus infection into adolescence or adulthood may be a critical risk factor for MS,” she said.

Recently, infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV), has been controversially linked to increased risk of MS. But researchers report that there was NO link for CMV. Instead, they found an inconsistent association across racial-ethnic groups. Antibodies against CMV are associated with a lower risk of MS, or clinically isolated syndrome, in Latinos. But this was not the case in African-Americans or Caucasians.

Overall, the researchers say that their results point to a strong biological link between EBV infection and MS. The say the results also highlight how understanding of the factors underlying MS can be greatly improved by multiethnic studies.

“Studies like ours that include participants from multiple racial groups can be a strong tool to test for biological risk factors, especially when the frequency of exposures to biological factors like Epstein-Barr virus and mononucleosis differ between groups. If the findings were not the same across all groups, it would be less likely that a link would be biological,” Langer-Gould said.

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1 Annette Langer-Gould, MD, PhD, is a Research Scientist in the Department of Research & Evaluation and serves as Regional Physician Multiple Sclerosis Champion at Kaiser Permanente Southern California. She is a practicing MS specialist at Los Angeles Medical Center.

Her epidemiologic research focuses on the role of vitamin D, genotype, race/ethnicity, and MS susceptibility, as well as predictors of prognosis and comparative effectiveness of MS therapeutics.

Dr Langer-Gould also leads a team developing, implementing, and evaluating programs to provide high-quality affordable care for individuals with MS.

She serves as co-chair of the Choosing Wisely Committee. She is a member of the Guidelines Development, Dissemination, and Implementation Subcommittee for the American Academy of Neurology. Additionally, she is a member of the National MS Society’s MS Prevalence Workgroup.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

5 Responses so far.

  1. Linda La Rowe says:

    I understand why we all have tried to connect MS with a mysterious virus. Big Pharma has definitely supported this belief. They have worked to block the antigens which go to the sights in the brain where lesions form by developing all the immune suppressant drugs to treat MS. I have a different suggestion, based on my personal experience. This is not my idea…it was observed by Dr. Raymond Damadian (original inventor of the MRI) and Dr. Scott Rosa. They believe MS, as well as other neuro degenerative diseases, is the result of head or neck trauma. This trauma creates the blockage of CSF flow in the cervical spine, leading to the leakage of CSF from the ventricles in the brain…where it is produced. It also creates way to high intracranial pressure. Dr. Damadian has imaged this blockage of CSF, the leakage from the ventricles and has measured the excessive CSF pressure in people with MS among other diseases such as Parkinson’s, and ALS. (He has developed software that illuminates the CSF; other MRI scans cannot see the CSF…it is blank much like scanning air). The excessive intracranial pressure also restricts blood flow (CCSVI). When blood flow is restricted, backjets occur, and over time, as one researcher explained, creates varicose veins in the brain…(BBB vulnerability). We need CSF flow to wash the brain, and blood flow to bring nutrients to the brain. Is it any wonder that MS creates challenges? I joined a study with these doctors 5 years ago. At the time I had MS 29 years and was SPMS for 9 years. I was imaged by Dr. Damadian and I showed 4 blockage points in the CSF flow in my cervical spine. I had scoliosis in my neck, my atlas disc was diagonal and the C2 was rotated. I had CSF leakage from all 4 ventricles in my brain. AND when you followed the leakage, it lead right to my lesions. This is where Dr. Rosa came into play. He noninvasively perfectly aligned my cervical spine using an image guided atlas orthogonal instrument…opening my CSF flow. At this point of my disease, I had accumulated many lost abilities. Immediately, I got my eyesight back. My discomfort in my neck and shoulders was gone. It took a couple of weeks, but I got the feeling back in my fingers. Having the ability to see and feel my fingers, I could put earrings in by myself. It took about a year to get the feeling back in my abdomen. After about 14 months, I got the urgency to urinate…I could empty my bladder and no longer get bladder infections. These are abilities that had been lost 12 to 25 years. I just have to ask you, have you ever had head or neck trauma? It can take weeks or months, even years to develop MS. I am not saying everyone has this in their history, but many have. I am just suggesting this as a possibility. A book has been written in which Dr. Damadian and Dr. Rosa have each written chapters: “The Cranialcervical Syndrome and MRI” which fully describes the research going on with what I have shared. Also, go to “fonar.com” and click on new developments with MS.

    • ian0811 says:

      Hi Linda, I am not saying that everyone who develops MS has been previously exposed to EBV but that there is a biological link that has now been found by researchers. Doubtless there are other causes too.
      One possible link that has not yet been established is CCSVI. It has been denigrated within the scientific community. Maybe, one day, it might be vindicated but – for now at least – it remains no more than a controversial theory.

    • Donna says:

      I find this all to be interesting. When I had my daughter in November of 1986, we noticed that her left eye was crossing a lot. The doctor thought she had a lazy eye, so, he had us patched her other eye to make her eye work on getting stronger. She would scream and cry the whole time. Eventually, we found out that she was blind in that eye. They did blood work and found that her and I had the antibodies to CMV (cytomegalovirus). I also have ACM (arnold chiari malformation). I had a brain decompression done in the fall of 2004. My csf was flowing poorly to my brain. I’ve read where trauma to the area where the central nervous system/dura could possibly bring on MS. In the fall of 2005, I had symptoms of MS but didn’t know all of this information. I was diagnosed with MS in March of 2008.

  2. Julie says:

    I had glandular fever (very badly) late in my 17th year and suffered the first symptoms of MS five years later. As these worsened, other issues emerged: food intolerances, IBS, migraine and later an inability to metabolise vitamin B12. I think Epstein Barr is responsible for many more problems than ‘just’ MS. It seems to give a jolt to the whole system.

  3. Linda La Rowe says:

    Ian, you are right that CCSVI is certainly challenged by the medical community. I had the good fortune to meet with Sharon Richardson, President of the CCSVI Alliance, a few years ago when I shared my experience after joining the MS Study with Dr. Damadian and Dr. Rosa. She had received liberation therapy (CCSVI) and had a stint put in her left jugular vein. She went to NY and worked with Dr. Rosa because she had lost the blood flow in her left jugular even with the stint in place. After alignment performed by Dr. Rosa using the atlas orthogonal instrument, her blood flow returned. Blood flow is clearly involved…it can be seen in venous MRI imaging (Dr. Zamboni). I went back for a check up one year after my alignment and discussed with Dr. Rosa that my blood flow also seemed to be involved. I told him that when I took low dose aspirin, I had better body function for an hour or two. Sharon had asked him if the software used by Dr. Damadian and Dr. Rosa could follow the blood flow as well as CSF flow. The answer was it can…and it was Sharon’s question that motivated Dr. Rosa to review all the scans done on 400+ patients in his study to see if blood flow was also a factor. He showed me a horizontal image slice at the atlas level in my brain done before I was treated the year before. I showed about 10% blood flow in my left jugular vein. I had about 40% blood flow in my right jugular vein. The same horizontal image done after my alignment showed 100% blood flow in both jugular veins. Dr. Rosa said he was finding the same event in most the images of his other patients. I understand Researchers not being aware of CSF flow and leakage of CSF in the brain, because they do not have the software to see CSF…it scans blank like scanning air. BUT I don’t accept Researchers not acknowledging the restricted blood flow…it shows up on MRI scans. These are all pieces of the MS puzzle. Patients who experience CCSVI liberation have mixed results. Some have great improvement, some have some improvement, and others have no improvement. Among those with improvement, some lose the improvement with the passage of time. When I was aligned opening the CSF flow…and blood flow, it turns out, I went to a local Chiropractor using the atlas orthogonal technology (under Dr. Rosa’s guidance) to maintain my alignment. This is new science with ongoing research AND much resistance from the medical community. I am always amazed when the medical community writes off research (CCSVI) because it doesn’t work 100% of the time. When the CSF flow is blocked, it may take more than a noninvasive MRI guided alignment to correct the problem. For instance, a friend of mine with MS showed she leaked CSF from the back ventricles in her brain…so much that she had a pool of CSF at the base of her brain pushing her brain forward asymmetrically. The fix for that issue will take more research. Mono is a pretty widespread virus, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a large number of people with MS, also had mono at some point in their life. I got mono in my 50’s from my grandson (very unusual) but I had been dealing with SPMS at that time. I have seen my images showing leaking CSF from the ventricles in my brain…and when you followed the leakage, it led to my lesions. When researchers figure out it is not a reaction to a virus, but the pooling CSF around the nerves that create the lesions…that is when real progress will be made. I am also assured that penetration of the BBB (CCSVI) is also involved here. It will take researchers using Dr. Damadian’s software and hardware and doing scans in the UPRIGHT multipositional MRI to be able to see what I have described. And it will take respecting the research being done by Dr. Zamboni. Putting these puzzle pieces together is my hope for the future…but I want them to hurry…I’m getting old

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