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Semin Immunol. 2009 Dec;21(6):328-33. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2009.08.003. Epub 2009 Sep 22.

Genetics and pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis.

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Center for Human Genetics Research, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an idiopathic autoimmune neurodegenerative disease. Like many common diseases, MS has a genetic component; however, as with most complex diseases, the genetic architecture may be influenced by heterogeneity, incomplete penetrance, polygenic inheritance, and environmental factors. This clinically complex disease has provided great challenges for geneticists over the years. Although the first consistent genetic association to MS (with HLA-DR*1501) was discovered more than 30 years ago, lack of consistently replicated genetic results has plagued the scientific community. New study design methods (particularly genome-wide associations studies [GWAS]) along with genome project data and larger datasets have allowed several additional MS genes to be identified and consistently replicated. Thus, after many years of frustration, the strong genetic component associated with MS is finally beginning to be characterized.

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