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Tove Christensen

A putative new retrovirus associated with multiple sclerosis and the possible involvement of Epstein-Barr virus in this disease

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Since tropical spastic paraparesis in 1985 was found to be associated with HTLV-I infection, it has been suggested that a retrovirus might be involved in multiple sclerosis (MS). Our group has studied long-term cultures of cerebrospinal fluid cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells from MS patients and controls with the purpose of elucidating the possible involvement of a retrovirus in MS. For an extended period electron microscopical analysis (EM) of T-cell lines, derived from MS patients and controls and cultured for 4 weeks was performed. In two cultures obtained 8 months apart from a patient with progressive MS, retrovirus-like particles were observed in 1-2% of the cells examined. Recently a B-lymphoblastoid cell line (LCL) producing retrovirus-like particles and EBV was established from a 30-year-old male patient with a chronic progressive myelopathy, clinically resembling multiple sclerosis. Similar cell lines have now been established from two MS patients. The retrovirus-like particles produced by the LCL have been purified by gradient ultracentrifugation. In the purified material reverse transcriptase assays are clearly positive in the gradients where EM shows retrovirus-like particles. Antigen characterization, nucleic acid sequence analysis and antibody studies are now being performed. The retrovirus found is definitively different from other known human retroviruses. It has previously been found that 100% of patients with MS have antibodies against EBV, in contrast to controls where only 86-95% have antibodies against this virus. Previous epidemiological studies have pointed toward a post-pubertal primary EBV infection as an important event in the induction of MS disease. These studies have now been substantiated by our group. Though it is still unknown whether EBV infection is a prerequisite for development of MS or whether the 100% EBV seropositivity is a consequence of the MS disease, we have put forward the hypothesis that the etiological agent for development of MS and MS-like diseases is a new hitherto uncharacterized retrovirus, whereas development of neurologic disease is related to or even dependent on a delayed infection with a virus from the herpes group, most likely EBV. This dual infection hypothesis has been analyzed and was found to be in accordance with the most consistent epidemiological characteristics of MS. We have previously, also from epidemiological data, negated retroviruses, behaving as the known human retroviruses, as an independent cause of MS.
TidsskriftNew York Academy of Sciences. Annals
Sider (fra-til)148-56
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 1994

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