Indexed on: 09 Jan '18Published on: 09 Jan '18Published in: Multiple sclerosis (Houndmills, Basingstoke, England)
A broad scientific consensus has emerged linking multiple sclerosis (MS) risk to multiple independent and interacting DNA variants that are relatively frequent in the population and act in concert with environmental exposures. The multifactorial, polygenic model of heritability provided the rationale and impetus to pursue genome-wide association studies (GWAS), which have been highly successful in uncovering genetic variants influencing susceptibility. Over 200 loci have been firmly associated with MS susceptibility. The main association signal genome-wide maps to the major histocompatibility complex ( MHC) gene cluster in chromosome 6p21. This association has been observed across all populations studied. However, a significant proportion of MS heritability remains unexplained. Decoding the genetics of MS represents a long-standing and important research goal in this disease, as the demonstration of even modest functional genomic effects on risk or the course of MS is likely to reveal fundamental disease mechanisms and possibly yield new therapeutic opportunities.