Multiple sclerosis (MS) is considered an autoimmune disease, however, there are people who are not certain that this is indeed the case. While the medical and research communities have known about multiple sclerosis for many years the exact cause why an individual acquires multiple sclerosis remains unknown. What is known is low levels of Vitamin D appear to be directly associated with the disease. Recent research has also suggested varying melatonin levels may be a contributing factor as well.
Strangely MS in more predominant above the Earth’s equator than below the equator. The Earth’s equator is nearer the Sun than any other point of the planet. The Sun is responsible in large part for Vitamin D creation within the human body. Since the Earth is rounded as one moves away from the equator the distance from the Sun increases. However, this does not explain why there are more cases of MS above the equator than below it.
Another recent suspect in multiple sclerosis is called CCVSI (chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency). In CCVSI is it believed that blood exiting the head is restricted causing essentially blood to pool. Surgery to open up blood vessels via a procedure similar to angioplasty to open up blood flow has been reported by some patients to help relieve symptoms. There are conflicting studies in respect to CCVSI. The initial finding stated that 100% of patients that were examined in a study had CCVSI. Later the Canadian Multiple Sclerosis Society funded research in an attempt to verify the findings and they found no particular pattern among MS patients and CCVSI. Further research is being explored in Canada currently.
Another finding of interest is a common virus globally called Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) which spreads quite easily and is responsible for mononucleosis for example. It’s been said that 100% of people with MS test positive for the EBV virus. The EBV virus is a member of the herpes virus family and is transmitted easily via bodily fluids such as saliva when kissing. Testing positive for EBV does not mean that a person had mononucleosis.
Research pertaining to multiple sclerosis and smoking shows a higher risk of disease for smokers.
Some research and real world data also suggest that MS has some form of hereditary connection but this too remains elusive in locating what this link may be.
There is a tremendous amount of ongoing research into the causes of multiple sclerosis and much progress has been made however the cause and cure remain elusive.
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is the most commonly used experimental model used by researchers to attempt to medicate and find causes and solutions to MS. EAE closely resembles multiple sclerosis in mice.
Research in 2015 in the United States showed a single drop of blood entering into the brains of mice resulted in the demyelinating EAE disease immune response and further research is ongoing.
Additionally, another study has shown that oligodendrocytes dying may result in multiple sclerosis onset. Oligodendrocytes create and maintain myelin which is tissue that acts as both an insulator and assists in electrical conduction in the Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord) between cells. This research shows in the mice (EAE) model that dying oligodendrocytes result in myelin not being properly maintained or new myelin created. After a time the myelin breaks down causing the immune system reaction as the immune system mistakes the broken down myelin to be an antigen, a foreign invader and thereafter recognizes myelin as an antigen.
Summary & Links:
To this day no smoking gun has been found as to the cause of multiple sclerosis. Some believe the disease may have multiple entry points.
Here are links to varied articles about suspect causes of MS and other related information: