A pinboard by
Vincent Damotte

Postdoctoral fellow, UCSF


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common inflammatory and demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, known as being multifactorial. Studies on Europeans have proved the main role of the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) gene cluster in MS genetic susceptibility, with the strongest effect being carried by HLA-DRB1*15:01 allele. Several risk and protective alleles are today known as being associated with MS in Europeans. However, even if it seems that we have a pretty clear map of the role of the MHC (Major Histocompatibility Complex) in MS, studying other ancestries is of importance as (i) it allows us to study alleles that don’t exist in Europeans, and (ii) it could allow us to fine-map the MHC region and to highlight causative HLA alleles because of the different linkage disequilibrium pattern existing in the other ancestries compared to Europeans.


An ImmunoChip study of multiple sclerosis risk in African Americans.

Abstract: The aims of this study were: (i) to determine to what degree multiple sclerosis-associated loci discovered in European populations also influence susceptibility in African Americans; (ii) to assess the extent to which the unique linkage disequilibrium patterns in African Americans can contribute to localizing the functionally relevant regions or genes; and (iii) to search for novel African American multiple sclerosis-associated loci. Using the ImmunoChip custom array we genotyped 803 African American cases with multiple sclerosis and 1516 African American control subjects at 130 135 autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms. We conducted association analysis with rigorous adjustments for population stratification and admixture. Of the 110 non-major histocompatibility complex multiple sclerosis-associated variants identified in Europeans, 96 passed stringent quality control in our African American data set and of these, >70% (69) showed over-representation of the same allele amongst cases, including 21 with nominally significant evidence for association (one-tailed test P < 0.05). At a further eight loci we found nominally significant association with an alternate correlated risk-tagging single nucleotide polymorphism from the same region. Outside the regions known to be associated in Europeans, we found seven potentially associated novel candidate multiple sclerosis variants (P < 10(-4)), one of which (rs2702180) also showed nominally significant evidence for association (one-tailed test P = 0.034) in an independent second cohort of 620 African American cases and 1565 control subjects. However, none of these novel associations reached genome-wide significance (combined P = 6.3 × 10(-5)). Our data demonstrate substantial overlap between African American and European multiple sclerosis variants, indicating common genetic contributions to multiple sclerosis risk.

Pub.: 31 Mar '15, Pinned: 29 Jun '17

Genetic risk variants in African Americans with multiple sclerosis.

Abstract: To assess the association of established multiple sclerosis (MS) risk variants in 3,254 African Americans (1,162 cases and 2,092 controls).Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DRB1, HLA-DQB1, and HLA-A alleles were typed by molecular techniques. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping was conducted for 76 MS-associated SNPs and 52 ancestry informative marker SNPs selected throughout the genome. Self-declared ancestry was refined by principal component analysis of the ancestry informative marker SNPs. An ancestry-adjusted multivariate model was applied to assess genetic associations.The following major histocompatibility complex risk alleles were replicated: HLA-DRB1*15:01 (odds ratio [OR] = 2.02 [95% confidence interval: 1.54-2.63], p = 2.50e-07), HLA-DRB1*03:01 (OR = 1.58 [1.29-1.94], p = 1.11e-05), as well as HLA-DRB1*04:05 (OR = 2.35 [1.26-4.37], p = 0.007) and the African-specific risk allele of HLA-DRB1*15:03 (OR = 1.26 [1.05-1.51], p = 0.012). The protective association of HLA-A*02:01 was confirmed (OR = 0.72 [0.55-0.93], p = 0.013). None of the HLA-DQB1 alleles were associated with MS. Using a significance threshold of p < 0.01, outside the major histocompatibility complex region, 8 MS SNPs were also found to be associated with MS in African Americans.MS genetic risk in African Americans only partially overlaps with that of Europeans and could explain the difference of MS prevalence between populations.

Pub.: 19 Jun '13, Pinned: 27 Jun '17

Genetic risk and a primary role for cell-mediated immune mechanisms in multiple sclerosis.

Abstract: Multiple sclerosis is a common disease of the central nervous system in which the interplay between inflammatory and neurodegenerative processes typically results in intermittent neurological disturbance followed by progressive accumulation of disability. Epidemiological studies have shown that genetic factors are primarily responsible for the substantially increased frequency of the disease seen in the relatives of affected individuals, and systematic attempts to identify linkage in multiplex families have confirmed that variation within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) exerts the greatest individual effect on risk. Modestly powered genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have enabled more than 20 additional risk loci to be identified and have shown that multiple variants exerting modest individual effects have a key role in disease susceptibility. Most of the genetic architecture underlying susceptibility to the disease remains to be defined and is anticipated to require the analysis of sample sizes that are beyond the numbers currently available to individual research groups. In a collaborative GWAS involving 9,772 cases of European descent collected by 23 research groups working in 15 different countries, we have replicated almost all of the previously suggested associations and identified at least a further 29 novel susceptibility loci. Within the MHC we have refined the identity of the HLA-DRB1 risk alleles and confirmed that variation in the HLA-A gene underlies the independent protective effect attributable to the class I region. Immunologically relevant genes are significantly overrepresented among those mapping close to the identified loci and particularly implicate T-helper-cell differentiation in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis.

Pub.: 13 Aug '11, Pinned: 29 Jun '17

Refining the association of MHC with multiple sclerosis in African Americans.

Abstract: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common demyelinating disease of the central nervous system mediated by autoimmune and neurodegenerative pathogenic mechanisms. Multiple genes account for its moderate heritability, but the only genetic region shown to have a large replicable effect on MS susceptibility is the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) across the MHC has made it difficult to fully characterize individual genetic contributions of this region to MS risk in previous studies. African Americans are at a lower risk for MS when compared with northern Europeans and Americans of European descent, but greater haplotypic diversity and distinct patterns of LD suggest that this population may be particularly informative for fine-mapping efforts. To examine the role of the MHC in African American MS, a case-control association study was performed with 499 African American MS patients and 750 African American controls that were genotyped for 6040 MHC region single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). A replication data set consisting of 451 African American patients and 718 African American controls was genotyped for selected SNPs. Two MHC class II SNPs, rs2647040 and rs3135021, were significant in the replication cohort and partially tagged DRB1*15 alleles. Surprisingly, in comparison to similar studies of individuals of European descent, the MHC seems to play a smaller role in MS susceptibility in African Americans, consistent with pervasive genetic heterogeneity across ancestral groups, and may explain the difference in MS susceptibility between African Americans and individuals of European descent.

Pub.: 15 May '10, Pinned: 27 Jun '17