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J Neurol Sci. 1990 Jul;97(2-3):163-71.

Familial occurrence of multiple sclerosis with thyroid disease and systemic lupus erythematosus.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Queensland, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Australia.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) has some features which suggest it is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases frequently occur in families, and patients and families often have more than one type of autoimmune disease. However, there are few reports of MS occurring in patients or families with other autoimmune conditions. It is difficult to make a separate diagnosis of MS in a patient who has a systemic autoimmune disease such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or Sjögren's syndrome, because these diseases can affect the nervous system directly. However, it is possible to make independent diagnoses of MS and an autoimmune disease confined to another single organ in the same patient, or diagnoses of MS and SLE (or other autoimmune diseases) in different family members. Here we describe clinically definite MS in 2 sisters, one of whom had Graves' disease, and the other of whom had a daughter with SLE and with a high titre of anti-thyroid antibodies. Other female family members over 4 generations had histories of thyroid disease, MS and Addison's disease. Available family members were HLA typed. The MS patients were positive for HLA DR2. All but one of the affected family members were related to the proband on the maternal side, and all of these affected females shared an HLA haplotype. However, this haplotype was also present in unaffected individuals. Thus HLA type alone cannot account for the familial occurrence of these disorders. We conclude that, in this family, MS, like autoimmune thyroid disease and SLE, may be an autoimmune disease developing in genetically predisposed individuals.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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