Metabolic Brain Disease

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 311–318 | Cite as

Assessment of Epstein-Barr virus in blood from patients with multiple sclerosis

  • Gloudina M. Hon
  • Mogamat S. Hassan
  • Susan J. van Rensburg
  • Rajiv T. Erasmus
  • Tandi E. Matsha
Original Paper


Viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) which can establish latent infections in the central nervous system or the immune system have been associated with chronic neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis. Results vary, therefore the aim of this study was to investigate the presence of EBV using both viral DNA and antibody screening techniques, using PCR and ELISA assays respectively, to evaluate viral presence in blood from control subjects and patients with multiple sclerosis. Viral gene sequences for latent proteins EBNA-1 and LMP-1 and lytic gene BamH1-W were present equally in both patients and controls (<7%). Anti-EBV-VCA IgG positive cases were present in >99% of all study subjects, and anti-EBV-VCA IgG immune status ratio showed a near-significant positive correlation with the EDSS in patients with multiple sclerosis. In contrast, Anti-EBV-VCA IgM positive cases were significantly increased in patients (controls: 23.3%; patients; 41.9%; P = 0.046). The IgM to IgG immune status ratio was near-significantly higher in patients with relapse episodes in the year preceding blood sampling (P = 0.058). Results from this and previous studies have shown higher prevalence rates for EBV evaluating anti-EBV IgM positive cases against viral DNA positive cases. Also, IgM, an innate immune response, showed an association with relapse episodes, suggesting viral re-activation as a contributing factor to these relapses.


Multiple sclerosis Epstein-Barr virus Anti-EBV-VCA IgG Anti-EBV-VCA IgM Kurtzke extended disability status scale 



We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the MS Society, Western Cape Branch, South Africa and sister Treska Botha for the recruitment of patients.

Financial assistance/Grants

This study was funded by a grant from the University Research Fund of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa.

Conflict of interest

None declared


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gloudina M. Hon
    • 1
  • Mogamat S. Hassan
    • 1
  • Susan J. van Rensburg
    • 2
  • Rajiv T. Erasmus
    • 3
  • Tandi E. Matsha
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Bio-Medical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Wellness ScienceCape Peninsula University of TechnologyCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.National Health Laboratory ServicesTygerberg HospitalCape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Division of Chemical PathologyUniversity of StellenboschTygerbergSouth Africa
  4. 4.Biomedical Technology, Faculty of Health and Wellness ScienceCape Peninsula University of TechnologyCape TownSouth Africa

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