Healthy Living

Is the Flu Connected to Multiple Sclerosis Relapses?

Influenza can trigger nervous system damage in multiple sclerosis

While researchers have known for many years that influenza is capable of disrupting the immune system, which causes an MS relapse, certain discoveries have only been made recently, and constant research is still being dedicated to the subject. Adalja explains the general consensus of many findings, "the immune system fends off whatever causes the infection. For people with MS, the immune activation spills into the central nervous system. So all T cells, even the ones not related to the infection, may be activated. It's like there's an alarm bell."

However, one of the most recent discoveries involves the specific mechanism that is responsible for activating this so-called alarm bell. It was found in a study that utilized mouse models. Adalja explains the results, "certain genes are turned on that allow more immune cells to make it from other parts of the body into the central nervous system and cause damage characteristics of MS." The study was published in August, and has sparked discussions of how influenza is able to trigger the potential "on" switch.