A pinboard by
Ana Citlali Marquez

PhD Candidate , University of British Columbia


How does Epstein-Barr Virus affect the onset of Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in humans is caused by both genetic and environmental factors. While there are many environmental factors that may impact the development of MS, one factor often associated with the onset of the disease is a history of Infectious Mononucleosis, which is caused by the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). However, exactly how infection with EBV increases a person’s chances of developing MS is not known. Because Epstein Barr Virus only infects humans, our lab has developed a mouse model to study the relationship between these two diseases. The model, which very closely resembles the onset of MS in human patients, uses γHV-68 (a mouse virus) as an analogue for Epstein Barr Virus, and Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE) as an analogue for MS. My project specifically focuses on the impact of γHV-68 on B cells (immune system cells that produce antibodies), where the virus establishes a life-long latency. I have shown that when B cells are infected by γHV-68, they alter the immune system so that EAE symptoms are more acute. This is because infected B cells communicate differently with other immune system cells than non-infected B cells. To better understand the impact of infected B cells on the immune system, I am currently conducting experiments that closely examine the differences in how infected B cells and other immune cells communicate. By isolating and studying the infected cells, we hope to determine which immune processes lead to enhanced symptoms of EAE in mice. In turn, these data will help us better understand the events that lead to the development of MS in human patients and will contribute in the development of new therapies for the treatment and/or cure of MS.