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J Autoimmun. 2003 Sep;21(2):111-6.

Genetic analysis of multiple sclerosis.

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Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Center for Genome Research, One Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02141, USA.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex disease with a significant genetic contribution. Similar to other complex diseases, the genetic risk for MS results from a combination of many genetic variants which individually confer only modest effects. Here we review the results of the complementary genetic approaches of linkage and association in MS, highlighting the challenges of identifying loci of modest effect. We describe meta-analytical approaches that provide additional statistical power necessary for detecting such loci and further apply this approach to evaluate the association of a CTLA-4 variant with MS. Lastly, we review recent important advances in our understanding of the patterns of genetic variation in the human genome and speculate about how these advances will aid in future studies of the genetic causes of MS.

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