A specific area on a human chromosome has shown weak to moderate association with the risk of a person being affected by MS. This area belongs to a gene complex involved in the immune system, known as human leukocyte antigen (HLA).

HLA plays important roles in the normal functioning of the immune system, and in diseases where the immune system attacks the body (autoimmune diseases). We still don’t know whether these genes have distinct effects in different type of MS (MS subtypes), or on MRI.

Researchers from the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the University of California, San Francisco looked at 652 people with relapsing-remitting and progressive MS, and found that these HLA alleles were associated with more brain shrinkage on MRI, and a younger age of MS onset in women, but not men.

The findings confirm and extend previous findings on HLA, and suggest that HLA may also be associated with changes on MRI.

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