Environmental Risk Factors for Multiple Sclerosis: A Review with a Focus on Molecular Mechanisms
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disabling disease of the central nervous system commonly affecting young adults. Pathologically, there are patches of inflammation (plaques) with demyelination of axons and oligodendrocyte loss. There is a global latitude gradient in MS prevalence, and incidence of MS is increasing (particularly in females). These changes suggest a major role for environmental factors in causation of disease. We have reviewed the evidence and potential mechanisms of action for three exposures: vitamin D, Epstein Barr virus and cigarette smoking. Recent advances supporting gene-environment interactions are reviewed. Further research is needed to establish mechanisms of causality in humans and to explore preventative strategies.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences
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Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified