Setting: A study of multicase tuberculosis pedigrees from Northern Brazil.
Objective: To determine the model of inheritance for genetic susceptibility to tuberculosis, and to test the hypothesis that TNFA and NRAMP1 are candidate susceptibility genes.
Design: The study sample included 98 pedigrees, 704 individuals and 205 nuclear families. Segregation analyses were performed using the programs POINTER and COMDS. Combined segregation and linkage analysis was carried out within COMDS. Non-parametric linkage analyses were performed using BETA.
Results: A sporadic model for disease distribution in families was strongly rejected, as were polygenic and multifactorial models. A codominant single gene model provided the best fit (P < 0.001) to the data using POINTER. COMDS extended the analysis to compare single-gene and two-gene models. A general two-locus model for disease control was marginally favoured (0.01 < P < 0.05) over the codominant single-gene model. No evidence was found for linkage between susceptibility to disease per se and the TNF gene cluster. Weak linkage was observed using COMDS for genes (IL8RB, P = 0.039; D2S1471, P = 0.025) tightly linked (< 150 kb) to NRAMP1, but not for NRAMP1 itself.
Conclusions: Tuberculosis susceptibility in this region of Brazil is under oligogenic control. Although a minor role for TNFA and NRAMP1 cannot be excluded, our data suggest that neither is a major gene involved in this oligogenic control.