Henderson RD, Bain CJ, Pender MP
Department of Neurology, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Queensland, Australia
The aims of this study were to determine whether the occurrence of autoimmune diseases is increased in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and their families and whether this is influenced by the type of MS. We conducted a case-control study using a questionnaire design to determine whether the prevalence of 11 autoimmune diseases is increased in patients with MS and their first-degree relatives compared to a random population control group and their first-degree relatives. We found that the total combined prevalence of the 11 autoimmune diseases was higher in the MS patients than in the controls, with an odds ratio of 1.7 (95% confidence interval 0.9-3.2;P = 0.10) increasing to 1.9 (1.0-3.5;P = 0.05) after adjusting for age. For persons aged under 60 years, the odds ratio was 2.3 (1.1-4.6). We also found that there was a significant increase in the total combined prevalence of the autoimmune diseases in the first-degree relatives of MS patients compared to the first-degree relatives of the control group (P = 0.003, odds ratio 2.2, confidence interval 1.3-3.7). Patients with primary progressive MS did not differ from patients with relapsing-remitting or secondary progressive MS in the personal or familial occurrence of autoimmune disease. In conclusion, although there were sources of possible bias, this study suggests that individuals with MS have a genetic predisposition to autoimmunity in general.
J Clin Neurosci 2000 Sep;7(5):434-437