Research Article| Volume 162, ISSUE 2, P194-200, January 15, 1999

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Comparison of clinical and demographic features between affected pairs of Italian Multiple Sclerosis multiplex families; relation to tumour necrosis factor genomic polymorphisms


      We conducted a comparative analysis of clinical and demographic findings between pairs of relatives (36 sibling and 9 parent/child), concordant for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), from 40 MS Italian Multiplex families. A genetic TNF (α and β) loci typing in 51 affected and 69 healthy relatives belonging to 25 of these families was also performed. The sib pairs resulted significantly concordant for age at onset (r=0.414, P<0.013), Progression Index (r=0.34, P<0.05) and sensory symptoms at onset (k=0.37), and significantly not concordant for sex (k=−0.37), whereas no concordance was found for year at onset and disease course. The only significant result in the small group of parent/child pairs was that parents developed MS at an age of 18.74 years significantly (P=0.020) greater than their children. Genomic analysis identified 13 variants of TNF-a alleles, 7 of TNF-b, 6 of TNF-d and 3 of TNF-e. No differences in the frequencies of the various TNF alleles were observed between affected and healthy relatives. The two-point lod-score analysis of the TNF locus showed not significant or negative results for the TNFα loci and slightly positive results (Zmax=0.4 at θ=0.2 cM) for the TNFβ-b locus in the lowest penetrance dominant model. The Sib pair analysis, using combined TNFα and TNFβ haplotypes, demonstrated a TNF allele sharing between affected sib-pairs which did not exceed the expected 50%. These results suggest that genetic factors may partially influence the disease onset and the progression rate in sibling pairs. A recall bias and/or an ‘anticipation phenomenon’ could explain the development of MS at an older age in parents than in their children. In this small-sized cohort of MS Italian families no significant associations were confirmed between TNF polymorphism and MS.


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