Gene variant may increase severity of multiple sclerosis
Dublin/St. Paul – Irish researchers have reported that a specific gene variant may increase the severity of multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms. For the study, which was published in Neurology (3rd August), the research team led by Margaret O'Brien from St. Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin screened the oligoadenylate synthetase gene (OAS1) in 401 MS patients, 394 individuals without MS, and 178 MS patients receiving the drug beta interferon. Following the analysis of the OAS1 gene, they found that 63 percent of those with MS had the AA genotype, compared to 57 percent of those without MS. The GG genotype was found in 37 percent of MS patients, compared to 43 percent of those without the disease. While the OAS1 gene was weakly associated with disease susceptibility, the study found that people carrying the AA genotype suffered earlier relapses and increased disease activity compared to those without the genotype. The study also found that individuals carrying the GG genotype exhibited lower levels of disease activity and experienced fewer relapses. "It's possible that the GG genotype may protect against increased disease activity in people with MS, but more research is needed," said O'Brien.