A mouse version of Epstein-Barr seems to prevent, not trigger, symptoms of autoimmune disease
A viral infection may help combat lupus. The mouse version of a virus thought to be a prime suspect in the disease, the Epstein-Barr virus, actually prevents certain features of the autoimmune disease, a study in mice shows.
“It might be that this virus has positive effects,” says study author Roberta Pelanda of the National Jewish Health hospital and the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. “We really don’t know what these chronic viruses do to the immune system.” Pelanda and her colleagues describe the findings online April 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In people with lupus, the immune system makes antibodies called autoantibodies that attack the body, including the kidneys, heart, skin and blood. While the cause of lupus remains poorly understood, some studies have suggested that the Epstein-Barr virus may trigger the disease in susceptible individuals. The virus, a member of the herp