A Herpes Virus May Be the Cause of Multiple Sclerosis

3D illustration of virus cells with sensors or receptors on red background

Can a Herpes Variant be the clue to treating Multiple Sclerosis? With more than 8,700 MS patients and 7200 without MS used as a control group, researchers from Karolinska Institute have made a discovery that will push the science community a step closer in understanding what strain is contributing to the development of Multiple Sclerosis in some patients.

What is Multiple Sclerosis or MS? 

 Multiple Sclerosis often referred to as MS, is a chronic autoimmune disease where a patient undergoes an abnormal response from their immune system. The patient is deteriorating their myelin, slowly destroying their central nervous system and leading to the disruption of signaling. The messages sent from the central nervous system are altered, causing the patient to have unusual responses. As the disease consumes and breaks down their CNS, a patient starts to feel one of the many symptoms: dizziness, vertigo, tingling, numbness, weakness, and involuntary muscle movements.

Herpes and the road to Multiple Sclerosis: 

To this date, there is no known cause for Multiple Sclerosis. Although it is still uncertain what causes MS in a patient, theorized by scientists in this field that certain strains of Herpes may play an essential role in the development of this disease. The two strains that have been the focus are HHV-6A and HHV-6B. Still, no clear explanations have been able to say that one strain causes MS. Serological separation been the barrier in understanding what virus causes this disease because of the difficulty in using this technology. Separating the viruses from one another may no longer be a barrier for scientists; thanks to researchers in Sweden, we are closer to understanding what strain is the contributor to this disease.

Scientists from the Karolinska Institute may have allowed us to understand what strain of Herpes causes this disease finally. Dr. Anna Fogdell Hahn and her colleagues were able to successfully purify and separate these two strains from one another by targeting the antibodies. Published on Frontiers in Immunology, “Increased that a herpes strain may be the reason why some people develop multiple sclerosis,” outlines what they ended up discovering in their experiment, that HHV-6A may be the contributor to MS. This came from an extensive clinical study examining protein 1A and 1B. Antibodies created in response to these viruses affecting a patient’s immune system. Patients with HHV-6A were at risk of developing MS 55% more than the control group. As for patients affected with HHV-6B, it wasn’t significant enough to say that HHV-6B causes MS.

By analyzing the patient’s antibodies, researchers discovered that HHV6-A is most likely the contributor to MS.

Interesting enough, patients affected with Epstein-Barr Virus or EBV, another herpes virus, had a higher risk of developing MS. This finding gives us an insight that perhaps infections may be the reason why some patients are at higher risk of developing this disease.


Thanks to the research, we can potentially help develop the next novel treatment for patients who have Multiple Sclerosis. Where scientists and research target Herpes HHV-6A antibodies in preventing and stopping the further deterioration of the Central Nervous System.