The nature of genetic and environmental susceptibility to multiple sclerosis.

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From: PLoS ONE(Vol. 16, Issue 3)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Document Type: Report
Length: 18,471 words
Lexile Measure: 1500L

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Abstract :

Objective To understand the nature of genetic and environmental susceptibility to multiple sclerosis (MS) and, by extension, susceptibility to other complex genetic diseases. Background Certain basic epidemiological parameters of MS (e.g., population-prevalence of MS, recurrence-risks for MS in siblings and twins, proportion of women among MS patients, and the time-dependent changes in the sex-ratio) are well-established. In addition, more than 233 genetic-loci have now been identified as being unequivocally MS-associated, including 32 loci within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), and one locus on the X chromosome. Despite this recent explosion in genetic associations, however, the association of MS with the HLA-DRB1*15:01~HLA-DQB1*06:02~a1 (H+) haplotype has been known for decades. Design/Methods We define the "genetically-susceptible" subset (G) to include everyone with any non-zero life-time chance of developing MS. Individuals who have no chance of developing MS, regardless of their environmental experiences, belong to the mutually exclusive "non-susceptible" subset (G-). Using these well-established epidemiological parameters, we analyze, mathematically, the implications that these observations have regarding the genetic-susceptibility to MS. In addition, we use the sex-ratio change (observed over a 35-year interval in Canada), to derive the relationship between MS-probability and an increasing likelihood of a sufficient environmental exposure. Results We demonstrate that genetic-susceptibitly is confined to less than 7.3% of populations throughout Europe and North America. Consequently, more than 92.7% of individuals in these populations have no chance whatsoever of developing MS, regardless of their environmental experiences. Even among carriers of the HLA-DRB1*15:01~HLA-DQB1*06:02~a1 haplotype, far fewer than 32% can possibly be members the (G) subset. Also, despite the current preponderance of women among MS patients, women are less likely to be in the susceptible (G) subset and have a higher environmental threshold for developing MS compared to men. Nevertheless, the penetrance of MS in susceptible women is considerably greater than it is in men. Moreover, the response-curves for MS-probability in susceptible individuals increases with an increasing likelihood of a sufficient environmental exposure, especially among women. However, these environmental response-curves plateau at under 50% for women and at a significantly lower level for men. Conclusions The pathogenesis of MS requires both a genetic predisposition and a suitable environmental exposure. Nevertheless, genetic-susceptibility is rare in the population (

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A655913662