Clinical neurologists and scientists who study multiple sclerosis face open questions regarding the integration of epidemiological data with genome-wide association studies and clinical management of patients. It is becoming evident that the interplay of environmental influences and individual genetic susceptibility modulates disease presentation and therapeutic responsiveness. The molecular mechanisms through which environmental signals are translated into changes in gene expression include DNA methylation, post-translational modification of nucleosomal histones, and non-coding RNAs. These mechanisms are regulated by families of specialised enzymes that are tissue selective and cell-type specific. A model of multiple sclerosis pathogenesis should integrate underlying risk related to genetic susceptibility with cell-type specific epigenetic changes occurring in the immune system and in the brain in response to ageing and environmental stimuli.
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