Suffern High SchoolClass of 2023
- "Does the severity of a patient’s adaptive immune response to an EBV infection correlate to the development of autoimmunity?" with mentor Helen (Sept. 23, 2022)
Does the severity of a patient’s adaptive immune response to an EBV infection correlate to the development of autoimmunity?
Started June 7, 2022
Abstract or project description
It has long been known that viral infections have the possibility to predispose patients to develop autoimmune disorders, however, the exact mechanism of how they do so is unclear. Clinical evidence suggests that Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) infection can significantly raise the risk of autoimmune conditions, especially in illnesses such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Sjogren’s Syndrome, and Multiple Sclerosis. EBV is a viral pathogen that, despite its relative obscurity in the public eye, affects upwards of 95% of the population. EBV is a member of the Herpes Virus family and is also known as Herpesvirus 4. An Epstein-Barr Infection usually does not present any symptoms however researchers have yet to determine a concise percentage of patients who are asymptomatic. That being said, a sizable portion of Epstein-Barr patients find themselves developing autoimmune disorders after their EBV infection. One common example is Rheumatoid Arthritis, an extremely common autoimmune disorder that causes severe inflammation in joints across the body and severely limits mobility. Furthermore, Multiple Sclerosis, a devastating disorder that can cause paralysis and death, has also been shown to have an association with EBV, along with Sjogren’s Syndrome, which causes dry mouth and eyes, and Lupus, which causes general inflammation across the body. Despite the prevalence of EBV, there are still many questions regarding its relation to autoimmune disorders. Particularly, there are questions regarding the impact that the severity of EBV infections has on autoimmune prognosis, the reasons why only some patients express EBV symptoms and autoimmune disease development, and the explanation as to why certain EBV infections result in certain immune disorders. Case reports regarding patients with both EBV infections and autoimmune disorders were examined in order to obtain data. Patient adaptive immune responses to EBV correlated with the progression of autoimmunity and subsequently compared to various autoimmune disorders. Along with this, looking at the pathology of an asymptomatic or healthy individual with an EBV infection may provide relevant data to be used as a control specimen. While other studies were able to detect the interrelation between EBV and specific autoimmune disorders, this study examines the greater connection between EBV and autoimmune disorders in general. The findings of this study not only shed light on EBV and autoimmune disorders in general but prompt questioning on why EBV has such a widespread impact on autoimmunity.