In the development and exacerbation of MS, viruses have often been implicated. This multiple sclerosis-viruses association is one that has great implications for understanding the nature of multiple sclerosis.


Examining the MS-Viruses Relationship


It has been speculated that viral infections are involved in triggering multiple sclerosis in particular people, and that these viral infections are further implicated in triggering flare ups of multiple sclerosis afterwards. The studies that have focused on this subject have tended to examine the relationship between stages in infection and the state of the multiple sclerosis patient’s health. For instance, it has been shown that these patient first developed MS symptoms after having succumbed to particular forms of viral infection. It has also been shown that subsequent episodes of viral replication and activity in the body coincide with the flaring up of multiple sclerosis symptoms. Not surprisingly, the treatment of these viral infections stops both the replication of the virus and the exacerbation of the multiple sclerosis symptoms. The MS appears to go into remission when the virus is stopped in its tracks.

The virus that has been most closely associated with the triggering and development of multiple sclerosis is the Epstein-Barr virus. This virus does not automatically cause MS in everybody who is infected with it. Therefore, it is safe to say that there must be another factor present that makes certain people more vulnerable to developing multiple sclerosis after having succumbed to EBV infection. That factor could be genetic: Multiple sclerosis has, in many cases, been linked to certain chromosomal changes. The factor could also be dietary: People suffering from vitamin D deficiency have been shown to be especially vulnerable to developing MS. Isn’t it also possible that they are more vulnerable to developing MS in the wake of an EBV infection?

This MS-viruses connection is a very important sub-topic in MS research because it might have lessons for those scientists seeking to understand immune system-involvement in the triggering and development of multiple sclerosis. EBV is a pathogen, a disease-causing agent. The immune system exists specifically to protect the body from such dangerous foreign bodies. Understanding the vulnerabilities of the immune system in the face of EBV infections might be one of the keys to developing an MS cure.

Those who favor alternative approaches to medicine may also appreciate the insights that this sub-topic has brought to the understanding of MS. Thanks to the efforts devoted to understanding the involvement of viral infections in MS development, it is becoming increasingly clear that it is more productive to think of diseases as systemic failures, not as rigid sets of symptoms. Thus, there is a lot to be said for understanding the multiple sclerosis-viruses association.