Oligoclonal bands in multiple sclerosis reactive against two herpesviruses and association with magnetic resonance imaging findings.

Two human herpesviruses, human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), have been repeatedly linked to multiple sclerosis (MS).


The aim of this study was to investigate HHV-6 and EBV reactive oligoclonal bands (OCBs), and viral DNA in the intrathecal compartment in MS.


The reactivity of OCBs in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for EBV and HHV-6 antigens and stability of virus reactive OCBs over time were studied in a well-characterized MS patient cohort. Associations between virus reactive OCBs and viral DNA in CSF (and any clinical and/or radiological findings) were investigated.


Of patients with MS, 38% had OCBs reactive to either one of the viruses studied, compared to none in the patients with other inflammatory neurological diseases (p=0.005). The banding pattern of virus reactive OCBs remained the same over time. Furthermore, MS patients with viral DNA in CSF had more contrast enhancing lesions (CELs).


The stable presence of herpesvirus reactive OCBs in CSF further strengthens the association of MS with these viruses. The finding that herpesviruses might be linked to the appearance of active lesions warrants investigation of new therapeutic strategies to treat these viruses in MS.

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