January 6, 2011

Women with MS More Likely to Have MS Gene

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Women who have multiple sclerosis (MS) are more likely to have the gene associated with MS than men with the disease, according to a new study.

Previous studies show that the number of people diagnosed with MS is on the rise, and the rate is growing more rapidly for women. There is no known cause for MS, but evidence suggests that it is triggered by environmental factors in people who are genetically susceptible to the disease.

The main gene associated with MS in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II gene, but the most risk comes from interaction of both parental genes.

The researchers looked at the HLA genes of 1,055 families, which had more than one person in the family with MS. The genes of 7,093 people were tested, which included 2,127 people with MS. The researchers looked at what the HLA genes were for the people with and without MS, whether people with MS inherited the susceptibility gene from their mother or their father, and what the relationship was between people in the same family with MS.

The researchers found that women with MS were 1.4-times more likely to have the HLA gene variant associated with MS than men with MS. A total of 919 women and 302 men had the HLA gene variant compared to 626 women and 280 men who did not have the gene variant.

"Our findings also show women with the HLA gene variant are more likely to transmit the gene variant to other women in their families than to men," study author George C. Ebers, M.D., FMedSCi, of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, was quoted as saying.

The researchers also determined that second-degree relatives such as aunts and their nieces or nephews were more likely to inherit the gene variant than first-degree relatives such as siblings or parents and children.

"It appears that the less the genetic sharing between individuals, the higher the interaction is between female sex and inheritance of the HLA gene variant," Orhun Kantarci, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, who wrote an editorial on the study, was quoted as saying. "These findings pave the way for future studies of these genes, hopefully to advance our understanding of inheritance of complex diseases such as MS."

SOURCE: Neurology, published online January 5, 2010