Mono and genetics

Ever wonder why some people get mono and others don’t?  Almost 95% of adults carry antibodies to the Epstein Barr virus that causes mono, but less than 30% of people are estimated to get mono.  [CDC.gov]   Turns out that there may be a genetic susceptibility to mono as well as environmental factors.  Twin studies, one way of determining heritability of a condition,  show that identical twins are twice as likely to both have mono as fraternal twin siblings.  [ref]

There aren’t a lot of studies seeking to determine exactly where the genetic susceptibility of a person to mono lies.  My guess is that there isn’t any money in knowing that answer, but as a parent of a teen who has been exposed, I would like to know if he will get it!

A 2007 study with approximately 200 participants determined that certain HLA polymorphisms “may predispose patients to development of IM [infectious mononucleosis] upon primary EBV [Epstein Barr virus] infection.”  The study found that for rs253088, the A/A genotype was less frequent in the infectious mononucleosis group.  It also found that for rs6457110 the T allele was found less frequently in the mono group. [ref]

A 2001 study found that for the IL10 gene, a haplotype of A/TA (TA/T in 23and me orientation) on rs1880896, rs1800871, and rs1800872 is protective against Epstein Barr infection.  [ref]

More studies have been done on the link between having had mono and later developing multiple sclerosis.  HLA-DRB1*1501 serotype is highly correlated with the rs3135388 T-allele of HLA-DRA.  Studies have found that those with the HLA-DRB1*1501 (look at rs3135388 T allele) are at a higher risk of multiple sclerosis, especially if they have had mono. [ref]

If you have mononucleosis, there is a 2014 study showing that high doses of vitamin C may help shorten the duration of the disease. [ref]

 

 

 



Author Information:   Debbie Moon
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. She holds a Master of Science in Biological Sciences from Clemson University and an undergraduate degree in engineering. Debbie is a science communicator who is passionate about explaining evidence-based health information. Her goal with Genetic Lifehacks is to bridge the gap between the research hidden in scientific journals and everyone's ability to use that information. To contact Debbie, visit the contact page.