Variation in major histocompatibility complex genes on chromosome 6p21.3, specifically the human leukocyte antigen HLA-DR2 or DRB1* 1501-DQB1* 0602 extended haplotype, confers risk for multiple sclerosis (MS). Previous studies of DRB1 variation and both MS susceptibility and phenotypic expression have lacked statistical power to detect modest genotypic influences, and have demonstrated conflicting results. Results derived from analyses of 1339 MS families indicate DRB1 variation influences MS susceptibility in a complex manner. DRB1* 15 was strongly associated in families (P=7.8 × 10-31), and a dominant DRB1* 15 dose effect was confirmed (OR = 7.5, 95% CI = 4.4-13.0, P<0.0001). A modest dose effect was also detected for DRB1*03; however, in contrast to DRB1*15, this risk was recessive (OR=1.8, 95% CI=1.1-2.9, P = 0.03). Strong evidence for under-transmission of DRB1* 14 (P =5.7×10-6) even after accounting for DRB1* 15 (P = 0.03) was present, confirming a protective effect. In addition, a high risk DRB1* 15 genotype bearing DRB1* 08 was identified (OR=7.7, 95% CI=4.1-14.4, P<0.0001), providing additional evidence for trans DRB1 allelic interactions in MS. Further, a significant DRB1* 15 association observed in primary progressive MS families (P = 0.0004), similar to relapsing-remitting MS families, suggests that DRB1-related mechanisms are contributing to both phenotypes. In contrast, results obtained from 2201 MS cases argue convincingly that DRB1* 15 genotypes do not modulate age of onset, or significantly influence disease severity measured using expanded disease disability score and disease duration. These results contribute substantially to our understanding of the DRB1 locus and MS, and underscore the importance of using large sample sizes to detect modest genetic effects, particularly in studies of genotype phenotype relationships.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology