Last weekend, I was scrolling through some websites of some Multiple Sclerosis foundations. But when you read about the causes of Multiple Sclerosis at the Multiple Sclerosis foundations, you really get despondent. It’s always: We don’t really know the cause.
Many experts have tried to identify the causes of MS. But even for someone like myself who is a clinical neurologist or for a MS patient, we’re still confronted with uncertain news about what causes MS. For example, some Multiple Sclerosis Associations suggest that MS might possibly be a disorder that has occurred within the immune system. This would mean that the patient’s immune system might be damaged to a point where it starts to attack an important protein in the greasy, insulating shell (myelin) of the nerve pathways in the brain and spinal cord (the glycoprotein in myelin = myeloprotein), because it thinks this protein is an intruder from outside the body.
Other experts suggest there might be something else going on, that there might be a slow virus infection in the nervous system, one that develops a defensive response against the glycoprotein in the myelin. If so, it’s possible that a virus has entered the nerve cells or the pathways and then attacks the myelin. In other words, the immune system attacks the damaged myelin. Unfortunately, MS does not resemble any known slow virus infection of the nervous system. Despite modern lab techniques and advanced DNA techniques, a slow virus has not yet been found.
Moreover, MS is not an allergic reaction to an environmental substance, like hay fever from pollen. Instead, scientists refer to a different type of reaction: autoimmunity. Autoimmunity means that a person becomes allergic to their own tissue and therefore produces antibodies that attack their own healthy tissue. Indeed, there are strong indications that MS is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own defense system mistakenly forms antibodies that attack the myeloprotein. Scientists can produce antibodies that attack myeloprotein in animal experiments. This means that autoimmunity against myelin is possible for both animals and humans.
Since the 1960s, it has also been known that indeed a higher level of antibodies can be found in the spinal fluid of MS patients, which are called immunoglobulines. Importantly, modern treatments for autoimmune diseases are without any doubt effective for MS, and as such, there is some relation.
Meanwhile, however, there has been no specific antibody identified for MS. Additionally, attempts so far to show a response to brain or viral material have also all failed. In other words, currently, there is no scientific evidence for any of the theories proposed so far. This is why most scientists stick to a combination theory of an early virus attack causing an autoimmune response at a later stage. There seems to be no other logical explanation. In fact, the experts are slowly starting to doubt these hypotheses.
Thus, the question is still burning. What is going on? Why is this immune system disorder constantly increasing around the world?
Fortunately, the Dutch Multiple Sclerosis Associations and the National MS Society speak about possible unknown environmental factors. Here comes the theory from Dr. Henzi, what I describe in my book, to full justice. There is at least an attempt to appoint those environmental factors. Hopefully the scientists will start investigating this theory further.