Background: More than 100 common variants underlying multiple sclerosis (MS) susceptibility have been identified, but their effect on disease phenotype is still largely unknown.
Objective: The objective of this paper is to assess whether the cumulative genetic risk score of currently known susceptibility variants affects clinical presentation.
Methods: A cumulative genetic risk score was based on four human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and 106 non-HLA risk loci genotyped or imputed in 842 Belgian MS patients and 321 controls. Non-parametric analyses were applied.
Results: An increased genetic risk is observed for MS patients, including subsets such as oligoclonal band-negative and primary progressive MS patients, compared to controls. Within the patient group, a stronger association between HLA risk variants and the presence of oligoclonal bands, an increased immunoglobulin G (IgG) index and female gender was apparent. Results suggest an association between a higher accumulation of non-HLA risk variants and increased relapse rate as well as shorter relapse-free intervals after disease onset.
Conclusion: MS patients display a significantly increased genetic risk compared to controls, irrespective of disease course or presence of oligoclonal bands. Whereas the cumulative burden of non-HLA risk variants appears to be reflected in the relapses of MS patients, the HLA region influences intrathecal IgG levels.
Keywords: IgG index; Multiple sclerosis; disease course; genetic association; genetic risk; oligoclonal bands; relapse rate.
© The Author(s), 2015.