BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis has a clinically significant heritable component. We conducted a genomewide association study to identify alleles associated with the risk of multiple sclerosis. METHODS: We used DNA microarray technology to identify common DNA sequence variants in 931 family trios (consisting of an affected child and both parents) and tested them for association. For replication, we genotyped another 609 family trios, 2322 case subjects, and 789 control subjects and used genotyping data from two external control data sets. A joint analysis of data from 12,360 subjects was performed to estimate the overall significance and effect size of associations between alleles and the risk of multiple sclerosis. RESULTS: A transmission disequilibrium test of 334,923 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 931 family trios revealed 49 SNPs having an association with multiple sclerosis (P<1×10-4); of these SNPs, 38 were selected for the second-stage analysis. A comparison between the 931 case subjects from the family trios and 2431 control subjects identified an additional nonoverlapping 32 SNPs (P<0.001). An additional 40 SNPs with less stringent P values (<0.01) were also selected, for a total of 110 SNPs for the second-stage analysis. Of these SNPs, two within the interleukin-2 receptor α gene (IL2RA) were strongly associated with multiple sclerosis (P = 2.96×10 -8), as were a nonsynonymous SNP in the interleukin-7 receptor α gene (IL7RA) (P = 2.94×10-7) and multiple SNPs in the HLA-DRA locus (P = 8.94×10-81). CONCLUSIONS: Alleles of IL2RA and IL7RA and those in the HLA locus are identified as heritable risk factors for multiple sclerosis.
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