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Keywords:

  • multiple sclerosis;
  • review;
  • Epstein-Barr virus;
  • epidemiology;
  • retrovirus;
  • transactivation;
  • autoimmunity

The objective of this article is to bring together knowledge about Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in relation to multiple sclerosis (MS) in order to evaluate its implications in this disease. All MS patients are EBV seropositive, but EBV is not normally detected in the brain. EBV can explain many of the epidemiological dogmas known in MS. In addition, other studies point towards the involvement of EBV in MS. Despite this, other co-actors seem also to be involved. We still need to know whether EBV may be an initiating factor in MS or whether it is a factor in the pathogenesis. Possible ways of EBV involvement are discussed: direct involvement, an autoimmune inducing factor or a transactivating factor. A current treatment study of MS patients with a specific herpes antiviral drug may add further information to the etiology and pathogenesis of MS.