Neurology Central

Multiple sclerosis: potential risk factors, cognitive impairment and the microbiome

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Marianna Cortese (MD, PhD) is a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health (MA, USA) and is working in the research group of Dr Alberto Ascherio and Dr Kassandra Munger (both Harvard University). Marianna is currently focusing on multiple sclerosis (MS), including new potential risk factors of MS and cognitive impairment.
In this interview, Marianna speaks to us about her talk on vitamin D, smoking, Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) and long-term cognitive performance in clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) patients: an 11-year follow-up study of the BENEFIT trial. She also discusses how the microbiome might play a role in disease etiology by mediating the effects of MS risk factors.

What inspired you to work in this area?

I’m always struck to see how young MS patients are and how they’re taken out in the middle of their lives; when they’re trying to establish themselves professionally and privately. All of a sudden they get a disease that is so unpredictable. It sounds very hard and it would be nice to be able to prevent it one day.

You’ve presented a talk at ECTRIMS on vitamin D, smoking, EBV and long-term cognitive performance – could you give us an overview of this?

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