A prospective study of conditions associated with multiple sclerosis in a cohort of 658 consecutive outpatients attending a multiple sclerosis clinic

Mult Scler. 2004 Oct;10(5):575-81. doi: 10.1191/1352458504ms1087oa.


The cause of multiple sclerosis (MS) remains unknown. It is largely regarded as being an inflammatory autoimmune disease and has been reported in association with other inflammatory/autoimmune diseases. We performed a prospective study in 658 consecutive patients diagnosed with MS attending our outpatient MS management clinic between June 2002 and June 2003. Prevalence of associated conditions in these patients was calculated and compared with values from population studies using chi-square tests, odds ratios and confidence intervals. The MS population had significantly increased rates of asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes mellitus, pernicious anaemia, autoimmune thyroid disease, uveitis, seronegative spondyloarthropathies, bipolar disorder and melanoma compared to the general population. Both T helper type 1 (Th1)-mediated and T helper type 2 (Th2)-mediated diseases were significantly increased compared to the general population. There were also interesting associations seen with polyglandular autoimmune syndrome and rare single case associations. MS is associated with several other conditions. This work does not give evidence for the hypothesis that MS and atopy, reflecting Th1 and Th2 polarization, respectively, are mutually exclusive. Further work, ideally with a matched control population, is indicated.

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / epidemiology
  • Interferon-beta / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Outpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / epidemiology
  • Uveitis / epidemiology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Interferon-beta