Clinical Characteristics of Multiple Sclerosis in African-Americans

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2019 Nov 13;19(11):87. doi: 10.1007/s11910-019-1000-5.


Purpose of review: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that affects nearly 1 million people in the USA and has the potential to profoundly affect physical ability and income potential at a young age. Since a landmark paper was published in 2014, few studies have looked at differences in MS disease characteristics between African-American and Caucasian patients.

Recent findings: African-American patients often have a more severe MS disease course, as well as biomarker data which can portend a worse prognosis. While the sample sizes are usually quite small, subgroup analyses of African-American patients have been performed to evaluate efficacy of disease-modifying treatments as compared with the entire study population, made up of primarily Caucasians. In an era where we strive for personalized medicine, understanding racial differences in MS may help us better treat African-American patients in the future.

Keywords: African-Americans; Disease severity; Multiple sclerosis; Progression.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Prognosis