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Expert Rev Neurother. 2013 Mar;13(3):287-97. doi: 10.1586/ern.13.6.

Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis: association or causation?

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Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and Medical Research Council Functional Genomics Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a multifactorial disease in which both genetic and environmental factors and their interactions underlie causation. The current evidence base supports a strong association between Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and MS, but potential causality remains strongly debated. It is not possible to exclude the possibility that an abnormal response to EBV infection is a consequence, rather than a cause, of the underlying pathophysiology of MS, or indeed that the association may be a reflection of a similar underlying disease mechanism. Substantial experimental progress is necessary to achieve consistency of molecular findings to complement the strong epidemiological association between EBV and MS, which cannot alone show causation. Collectively, the strength of the association between EBV and MS warrants careful development and trial of anti-EBV drugs to observe any effect on MS disease course.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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