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Can J Neurol Sci. 1992 Nov;19(4):466-71.

The increased susceptibility of women to multiple sclerosis.

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Hôpital Notre-Dame, Montreal, P.Q., Canada.


Many diseases with an auto-immune etiology have a skewed sex distribution. In the majority of instances, women are affected more frequently than men. A review of population studies demonstrates that the preponderance of women in multiple sclerosis (MS) is almost constant. We show that this preponderance is further increased in early as well as in late-onset cases, in familial cases as well as in MS twin pairs and that the HLA-DR2 allele, which has been associated with MS in Caucasian populations, is significantly more frequent in women than in men with MS. "Rules" have been established for multifactorial diseases; MS contravenes most of those rules. The skewed sex distribution in MS could be attributed to the known hormonal and gender influences on the immune response, as well as to genetic influences.

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