Background: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is implicated with multiple sclerosis (MS) risk, exacerbation, and progression. The HLA-DRB1*1501 haplotype is a strong MS risk factor consistently documented in MS populations. There are no studies of EBV infections and HLA-DRB1*1501 haplotype associating with MS from Kuwait where MS prevalence has increased significantly. Objectives: To determine the association of EBV infection with MS incidence, and to investigate HLA-DRB1*1501 as a potential genetic risk factor for MS in Kuwait. Methods: This is a case-control study involving 141 MS patients and 40 healthy controls. Antibody titers against EBV antigens' viral capsid antigen (VCA) and Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA1) were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. HLA-DRB1*1501 haplotype assessment was done using rs3135005 TaqMan genotyping assay. Results: Antibody titers against EBV were significantly elevated in MS patients compared to healthy controls (anti-EBNA1, p = 0.008; anti-VCA, p = 0.028). MS males had higher antibody titers to EBNA1 than healthy male controls (p = 0.005) and female MS patients (p = 0.03). HLA-DRB1*1501 haplotype genotypes failed to generate a risk association with MS or EBV antibody titers (p = 0.6). Conclusion: An increased immune response to EBV infection is associated with MS incidence influenced by the type of antigen and sex. HLA-DRB1*1501 haplotype is not associated with MS risk in our Kuwaiti MS cohort.
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Multiple sclerosis