The ages of onset in multiple sclerosis cases span more than 7 decades. Data are presented for affected relative pairs from a Canadian population base of 30,000 multiple sclerosis index cases (1993-2008). The effects of genetic sharing, parent of origin, intergenerational versus collinear differences, and gender on the ages of onset were evaluated in the following concordant pairs: monozygotic twins (n = 29), dizygotic twins (n = 10), siblings (n = 614), first cousins (n = 405), half siblings (n = 29), parent/child (n = 285), and aunt/uncle/niece/nephew (avunculars) (n = 289). Fisher's z test assessed intraclass correlation (r) for ages of onset. Correlations for monozygotic twins, dizygotic twins, full siblings, and first cousins were 0.60, 0.54, 0.20, and 0.10, respectively. Dizygotic twins resembled monozygotic twins more than siblings. The age-of-onset correlation for maternal half siblings (r = 0.37) was higher than that for paternal half siblings (r = 0.26), consistent with other observations suggesting an intrauterine environmental effect on multiple sclerosis risk. Intergenerational comparisons are complicated by substantial increases of multiple sclerosis incidence over time. Genetic loading (familial vs. sporadic cases) did not generally influence the age of onset, but correlation of age of onset in multiple sclerosis relative pairs was proportional to genetic sharing. A maternal parent-of-origin effect on the age of onset in collinear generations was suggested.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex trait with a sibling relative risk (lambda(sibs)) between 18 and 36. We report a multistage genome scan of 552 sibling pairs from 442 families, the largest MS family sample assessed for linkage. The first stage consisted of a genome scan for linkage with 498 microsatellite markers at an average spacing of 7 cM in 219 sibling pairs. The second stage involved further genotyping of markers from positive regions in an independent sample of 333 affected sibling pairs. The global distribution of allele sharing for all markers showed a shift towards greater sharing within the affected sibling pair group but not in the discordant sibling pair group. This shift indicates that the number of contributing genetic factors is likely to be moderate to large. Only markers at chromosome 6p showed significant evidence for linkage (MLOD=4.40), while other regions were only suggestive (1p, 2q, 5p, 9q, 11p, 12q, 18p, 18q and 21q) with MLODs greater than 1.0. The replication analysis involving all 552 affected sibling pairs confirmed suggestive evidence for five locations, namely, 2q27 (MLOD=2.27), 5p15 (MLOD=2.09), 18p11 (MLOD=1.68), 9q21 (MLOD=1.58) and 1p31 (MLOD=1.33). Suggestive linkage evidence for a previously reported location on chromosome 17q (MLOD=1.67) and a prior association with marker D17S789 was replicated. We showed that the overall excess allele sharing we observed for the entire sample was due to increased allele sharing within the DRB1*15 negative subgroup alone. This observation is most consistent with a model of genetic heterogeneity between HLA and other genetic loci. These findings offer guidance for future genetic studies including dense SNP linkage disequilibrium analysis.
Microchimerism, the persistence of foreign cells thought to derive from previous pregnancies, has been associated with autoimmune diseases. A maternal parent-of-origin effect in MS remains unexplained. We tested for microchimerism in monozygotic and dizygotic twin-pairs with MS. Microchimerism was associated with MS in affected females from monozygotic concordant pairs when compared to both affected (p=0.020) and unaffected (p=0.025) females in monozygotic discordant pairs. Microchimerism was increased in affected females of dizygotic discordant pairs (p=0.059). The rate of microchimerism was significantly higher in affected twins than in unaffected co-twins (p=0.0059). These observations show an association in twins between the presence of microchimerism and having MS.
Genetic and environmental factors have important roles in multiple sclerosis (MS) susceptibility. Several studies have attempted to correlate exposure to viral illness with the subsequent development of MS. Here in a population-based Canadian cohort, we investigate the relationship between prior clinical infection or vaccination and the risk of MS.
Using the longitudinal Canadian database, 14,362 MS index cases and 7,671 spouse controls were asked about history of measles, mumps, rubella, varicella and infectious mononucleosis as well as details about vaccination with measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and influenza vaccines. Comparisons were made between cases and spouse controls.
Spouse controls and stratification by sex appear to correct for ascertainment bias because with a single exception we found no significant differences between cases and controls for all viral exposures and vaccinations. However, 699 cases and 165 controls reported a history of infectious mononucleosis (p
Genetic and environmental factors have important roles in multiple sclerosis (MS) susceptibility. Several studies have shown an association between smoking and MS risk. Here, in a population-based Canadian cohort, we investigate the relationship between personal and maternal smoking exposure and the risk of MS. Using the longitudinal Canadian database, 3,157 MS cases and 756 spouse controls were administered questionnaires on active and passive smoking history. Mothers of cases and controls were also asked about their smoking exposure during pregnancy. The MS cases were more likely to have smoked than spouse controls (odds ratio 1.32, 95 % confidence interval 1.10-1.60, p = 0.003). This association was driven by an excess of ever-smokers in male MS cases. No association was seen with maternal active or passive smoking exposure during pregnancy. Ever-smoking is associated with increased MS risk in males. Further work is needed to understand the mechanism underlying this association.
Autoimmune mechanisms are thought to have a major role in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and vitamin D is hypothesised to contribute to disease susceptibility. Cow's milk allergy (CMA) is a common childhood allergy arising from an immune system imbalance and can also lead to vitamin D deficiency due to dairy food avoidance. Here, we investigated whether or not CMA influences the subsequent risk to develop MS in a population-based cohort. We identified 6638 MS index cases and 2509 spousal controls with CMA information from the Canadian Collaborative Project on Genetic Susceptibility to MS (CCPGSMS). Frequency of CMA was compared between index cases and controls. No significant differences were found. Childhood CMA thus does not appear to be a risk factor for MS.
Studies in Canada have provided strong evidence that environmental factors act at a population level to influence the unusual geographical distribution of multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the available data accommodate more than one type of environmental effect. Migration studies show that changes to early environment can greatly affect risk, and there are recent indications that risk can be altered in situ. The rising incidence rates of MS in Canada implied by longitudinal increases in sex ratio place this effect in temporal context and narrow the candidates for mediating the effect of environment. Similarly, geographical patterns in Australia imply that modifiable environmental factors hold the key to preventing some 80% of cases. Genetic epidemiology provides overwhelming evidence that genetic background has an important complementary role. If genetic factors are held constant, the environment sets the disease threshold. Although these could be independent additive risk factors, it seems more likely that susceptibility is mediated by direct interactions between the environment and genes.