Original Communications

Journal of Neurology

, Volume 240, Issue 7, pp 417-422

First online:

Viral infections trigger multiple sclerosis relapses: a prospective seroepidemiological study

  • Oluf AndersenAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, University of Gothenburg
  • , Per-Erik LygnerAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, University of Gothenburg
  • , Tomas BergströmAffiliated withDepartment of Virology, University of Gothenburg
  • , Mats AnderssonAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, University of Gothenburg
  • , Anders VablneAffiliated withDepartment of Virology, University of Gothenburg

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Abstract

A neurological surveillance was combined with prospective recording of upper respiratory and gastrointestinal infections and serological diagnosis of five common viral infections in 60 benign multiple sclerosis patients, with a mean follow-up of 31 months. During 4-week at risk (AR) periods encompassing common infections, a significant excess of MS relapses was found in the AR period, with a relative risk of 1.3. A seasonal variation of the MS relapse rate was found with a minimum in summer. There was a significant correlation between the number of AR relapses and the number of common infections per month explaining the periannual distribution of relapses. The non-AR relapses showed no seasonal variation. There was a significant correlation between adenovirus CF titre rises associated with upper respiratory infections and the occurrence of a major MS relapse in the AR period (n = 7), while influenza infections were not followed by a major MS relapse (n = 6). Linear homologies have been demonstrated between adenovirus and basic myelin protein. The epidemiological approach is essential to our understanding of systemic antigens triggering multiple sclerosis activity.

Key words

Multiple sclerosis Viral infection Epidemiology Adenovirus