Lack of evidence for involvement of known human retroviruses in multiple sclerosis


The recent report by Koprowski et al.1 that human T-cell lymphotropic retroviruses (HTLVs) may be involved in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) has aroused much interest2. The report was based largely on immunological evidence, using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) with viral antigens or disrupted virions. We have accordingly sought confirmation by screening sera and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from MS patients against cell lines infected respectively with adult T-cell leukaemia (ATL) virus (ATLV/HTLV-I) of Japanese cells (MT-1 and MT-2 lines), our own isolate from British black patients with ATL, the MoT cell line which produce HTLV-II, and our own T-cell line containing a local isolate of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) virus (C-LAV/HTLV-III). We have failed to find antibodies against these retroviruses in the sera or CSF. Furthermore, neither virus could be isolated from the peripheral white blood cells of two MS patients.

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Karpas, A., Kämpf, U., Sidèn, Å. et al. Lack of evidence for involvement of known human retroviruses in multiple sclerosis. Nature 322, 177–178 (1986).

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