Endogenous retroviruses and multiple sclerosis-new pieces to the puzzle

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The possibility that retroviruses play a role in multiple sclerosis (MS) has long been considered; accumulating findings suggest this to be most likely in the form of human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs). A genetic test series of fifty endogenous retroviral loci for association with MS in Danes showed SNP markers near a specific endogenous retroviral locus, HERV-Fc1 located on the X-chromosome, to be positive. Bout Onset MS was associated with the HERV-Fc1 locus, while a rarer form, Primary Progressive MS, was not. Moreover, HERV-Fc1 gag RNA in plasma was increased 4-fold in patients with recent history of attacks, relative to patients in a stable state and to healthy controls.Finally, genetic variations in restriction genes for retroviruses influence the risk of MS, providing further support for a role of retroviral elements in disease.We speculate that endogenous retroviruses may activate the innate immune system in a variety of ways, involving the host proteins, TRIMs, TLRs, TREXs and STING. Observations in HIV-positive patients suggest that antiretroviral drugs can curb MS. Thus, these new findings regarding the etiology and pathogenesis of MS, suggest alternative ways to challenge autoimmune diseases.
Original languageEnglish
JournalB M C Neurology
Volume13
Issue111
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
ISSN1471-2377
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2013

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