Four published genome screens have identified a number of markers with increased sharing in multiple sclerosis (MS) families, although none has reached statistical significance. One hundred and five markers previously identified as showing increased sharing in Canadian, British, Finnish, and American genome screens were genotyped in 219 sibling pairs ascertained from the database of the Canadian Collaborative Project on Genetic Susceptibility to MS (CCPGSMS). No markers examined met criteria for significant linkage. Markers located at 5p14 and 17q22 were analyzed in a total of 333 sibling pairs and attained mlod scores of 2.27 and 1.14, respectively. The known HLA Class II DRB1 association with MS was confirmed (P
Results from studies of twin concordance in multiple sclerosis have not conclusively differentiated between environmental and genetic factors that determine susceptibility to the disease. Published studies that have been based on case finding by public appeal have been characterized by difficulties in ascertainment. The data reported here are from a large population-based study of multiple sclerosis in twins, in which ascertainment has been relatively unbiased and the cooperation of patients nearly complete. A total of 5463 patients attending 10 multiple sclerosis clinics across Canada were surveyed. Twenty-seven monozygotic and 43 dizygotic twin pairs were identified, and the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis was verified by examination and laboratory investigation. Seven of 27 monozygotic pairs (25.9 percent) and 1 of 43 dizygotic pairs (2.3 percent) were concordant for multiple sclerosis. The concordance rate for 4582 nontwin siblings of patients at two multiple sclerosis clinics was 1.9 percent, closely paralleling the concordance rate in dizygotic twins. To the extent that the difference in concordance rates between monozygotic and dizygotic twins indicates genetic susceptibility, the results of this study show a major genetic component in susceptibility to multiple sclerosis.
This study is a 7.5-year follow-up of a population-based series of twins with multiple sclerosis (MS) whose mean age now exceeds 50 years. The twin pairs were identified through the Canadian nationwide system of MS clinics and were drawn from a population of 5,463 patients. After 7.5 years, the monozygotic concordance rate increased from 25.9 to 30.8% and the dizygotic-like sex concordance rate from 2.4 to 4.7%. These results are very similar to those of other population-based studies and to our own modified replication twin data reported here. We interpret the data to mean that MS susceptibility is genetically influenced, and a single dominant or even a single recessive gene is unlikely to account for this effect. The difference in concordance rates suggests that at least two or more genes are operative. These data also have important implications for the nature of the environmental effect(s) in MS susceptibility. Most monozygotic twins are discordant even after a correction for age and magnetic resonance imaging findings. This unambiguously demonstrates the powerful effect of nonheritable factors.