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Keywords:

  • EBV;
  • Epstein–Barr virus;
  • immunoglobulin;
  • microarray;
  • multiple sclerosis

Abstract

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS). Microarray-based global gene expression profiling is a promising method, used to study potential genes involved in the pathogenesis of the disease. In the present study, we have examined global gene expression in normal-appearing gray matter and gray matter lesions from the cortex of MS patients, and compared them with cortical gray matter samples from controls. We observed a massive upregulation of immunoglobulin (Ig)-related genes in cortical sections of MS patients. Using immunohistochemistry, the activation of Ig genes seems to occur within plasma cells in the meninges. As synthesis of oligoclonal IgGs has been hypothesized to be caused by the activation of Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)-infected B-cells, we screened the brain samples for the presence of EBV by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and immunohistochemistry, but no evidence of active or latent EBV infection was detected. This study demonstrates that genes involved in the synthesis of Igs are upregulated in MS patients and that this activation is caused by a small number of meningeal plasma cells that are not infected by EBV. The findings indicate that the Ig-producing B-cells found in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of MS patients could have meningeal origin.