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Research paper
Epstein-Barr virus persistence and reactivation in neuromyelitis optica
  1. Saeko Masuda1,
  2. Masahiro Mori1,
  3. Kimihito Arai2,
  4. Akiyuki Uzawa1,
  5. Mayumi Muto1,
  6. Tomohiko Uchida1,
  7. Hiroki Masuda1,
  8. Satoshi Kuwabara1
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan
  2. 2Department of Neurology, National Hospital Organization Chiba-East-Hospital, Chiba, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Satoshi Kuwabara, Department of Neurology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, 1-8-1, Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba 260-8670, Japan; kuwabara-s{at}


Objective Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection has been thought to be a key environmental factor in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS). The aim of this study is to investigate the association of EBV infection with neuromyelitis optica (NMO).

Methods We measured levels of serum antibodies against EBV antigens, including anti-viral capsid antigen (VCA) IgM, anti-VCA IgG, anti-early antigen (EA) IgM, anti-EA IgG and anti-EBV nuclear antigen-1 IgG, in 50 patients with NMO (including 12 partial form with antiaquaporin 4 antibodies), 51 patients with MS, and 52 healthy controls, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) antibodies in 37 patients with NMO and 33 patients with MS with ELISA.

Result Compared with patients with MS and normal participants, patients with NMO more frequently had serum anti-EA IgG antibodies (52%), indicating more active viral replication than patients with MS (26%) and controls (25%). The antibody titres were significantly higher in the NMO group than in the MS (p=0.005) and control (p=0.005) groups. The CSF antibody titres were also higher in patients with NMO than in those with MS (p=0.03).

Conclusions Our results raise the hypothesis that persistent, active EBV replication is present in NMO, and may contribute to the immunological alterations that play a pathogenetic role in the disorder.


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