Thursday, March 19, 2009

Humor me, but don't kiss me

My dog-eared copy of The Autoimmune Epidemic has me in its clutches again today. I'm bursting with hypotheses, but I'm realizing that my lack of a PhD in biochemistry or genomics or super-brainiac-science-chickness is getting in my way. Nevertheless, I will persevere in my attempt to be the psoriatic Sherlock Holmes.

In "The Autoimmune Epidemic" (starting on page 127) Jackson Nakazawa introduces the work of Drs. John Harley and Judi James. These two maverick researchers discovered a strong link between Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) (which causes mononucleosis - the kissing disease) and the onset of lupus, which is another autoimmune disease. Jackson Nakazawa discusses how Harley and James were able to: back in time and show that the autoimmune reaction in lupus patients was a slow-brew reaction to an Epstein-Barr exposure that had occurred months, years or even decades before. (page 134)
Why did this tickle my brain, you may ask?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my husband and I both suffered from a strange bout of sickness about 4 years ago. Our doctors at first thought it was lymphoma, but then settled on Epstein-Barr/mono (our test results were equivocal).

About 2 years after my husband had mono, he had his first Crohn's disease flare (Crohn's is an autoimmune illness). Also, about 2 years after I had mono, my knees, hands, and wrists flared with psoriatic arthritis.

I haven't had time yet to do a thorough scan of the the research journals, but at first glance there is not a lot out there about PsA and EBV. However, I did find this recent article about the possible link between EBV and our sister disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis. There's something to this, I think.

BTW, 95% of people will have EBV by the time they are 35-40. But most people get EBV, and mono, in their teens (I guess neither of us got enough action in high school). Did our late exposure to EBV trigger our bad genetics, and cause an autoimmune reaction?

More to come. But 'til then... be careful who you kiss, Watson.


  1. I have read similar studies/information on the internet. I've had psoriasis for about 20 years, and a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue after a blood test revealed that I had indications of having had EBV at some point. It's all very fascinating and makes a lot of sense.

  2. Hang on. Wait. Back up.

    They were able to "travel back in time" to do research?

  3. Yup - using the power of science. And Katie, I bet we could probably find a lot of others who share similar experiences. I think it's really interesting...