Western versus Asian types of multiple sclerosis: immunogenetically and clinically distinct disorders

Ann Neurol. 1996 Oct;40(4):569-74. doi: 10.1002/ana.410400405.


The polymorphism of HLA-DRB1, -DRB3, and -DRB5 genes as well as magnetic resonance images of the brain and spinal cord were studied in 57 Japanese patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Twenty-three patients clinically displayed selective involvement of the optic nerve and spinal cord and were classified as having Asian-type MS. The other 34 patients had disseminated central nervous system involvement and were classified as having Western-type MS. Patients with Asian-type MS had fewer brain lesions shown by magnetic resonance imaging, but more gadolinium-enhanced spinal cord lesions than did patients with Western-type MS (47% vs 17%). Furthermore, the DR2-associated DRB1*1501 allele and DRB5*0101 allele were associated with Western-type MS (41.2%), but not with either Asian-type MS (0%) or healthy control subjects (14.2%). Heterogeneity in the immunogenetic background and in the magnetic resonance imaging features between the two subtypes of MS thus suggests the presence of two etiologically distinct diseases in Asians.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Gene Amplification
  • HLA-DR Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-DR Antigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / genetics*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Optic Nerve / physiopathology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology


  • HLA-DR Antigens