December 1, 2003
Boston Cure Project
Scientists studying genetic susceptibility to MS in African-Americans have further implicated genetic variants in the HLA-DRB1 region as MS risk factors. This team from UCSF analyzed the genes of over 1,000 African-Americans, including people with MS, healthy family controls, and unrelated controls. They found that people with MS were more likely to have the variants HLA-DRB1*1501, -1503, or -0301 than people without MS.
They were also able to demonstrate that the nearby locus DQB1 does not appear to play a strong role in MS susceptibility. In people of European heritage, DRB1*1501 and DQB1*0602 often tend to be found together on a chromosome, so studies showing an association for both could not tell which one was more important. But in Africans, these two loci are not linked as strongly, and therefore this study population included people who had one but not the other. By analyzing each locus separately, the scientists found that DRB1*15 increased the risk of MS but that DQB1*0602 had little effect.
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