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Curr Opin Neurol. 2005 Jun;18(3):231-5.

Genomics, proteomics, metabolomics: what is in a word for multiple sclerosis?

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  • 1Department of Immunology, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany.



Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common chronic inflammatory neurological disease. Despite major advances the aetiology of this disease it is still not completely understood. In the post-genome era, advances in global screening technologies offer an opportunity to accelerate the search of new pathological pathways and to identify new therapeutic targets. Some recent publications using novel global screening methods at the genome, transcriptome, proteome and metabolome levels are discussed.


The genetic association of susceptibility to MS with loci outside the MHC has been reconfirmed. Evidence of parent-of-origin and seasonal effects on disease susceptibility add further complexity to the genetics of MS. The search for MS susceptibility genes continues using the candidate-gene approach as well as large-scale single-nucleotide-polymorphism association studies and novel cross-species synteny analysis. Genome-wide expression profiling using microarrays produced numerous therapeutic targets and is progressing towards profiling of rare cells. Advances in classical proteomics methods paved the way to new initiatives aiming at determining the proteome of the nervous system in normal and diseased states. Although progress is still slow, array-based methods are making an impact on the MS field.


The complexity of MS is clearly reflected in the latest findings using global profiling methods. Nevertheless, these new technologies are confirming some of the basic aspects of the disease pathophysiology, i.e. its polygenicity, the central role of neuroinflammation and the emerging neurodegenerative processes. These data are primarily the results of genomic approaches, yet promising attempts are also made using proteomics and metabolomics.

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