Genetic risk factors for pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis

for the Network of Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Centers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Strong evidence supports the role of both genetic and environmental factors in pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (POMS) etiology. Objective: We comprehensively investigated the association between established major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and non-MHC adult multiple sclerosis (MS)-associated variants and susceptibility to POMS. Methods: Cases with onset <18 years (n = 569) and controls (n = 16,251) were included from the United States and Sweden. Adjusted logistic regression and meta-analyses were performed for individual risk variants and a weighted genetic risk score (wGRS) for non-MHC variants. Results were compared to adult MS cases (n = 7588). Results: HLA–DRB1*15:01 was strongly associated with POMS (odds ratio (OR)meta = 2.95, p < 2.0 × 10−16). Furthermore, 28 of 104 non-MHC variants studied (23%) were associated (p < 0.05); POMS cases carried, on average, a higher burden of these 28 variants compared to adults (ORavg = 1.24 vs 1.13, respectively), though the difference was not significant. The wGRS was strongly associated with POMS (ORmeta = 2.77, 95% confidence interval: 2.33, 3.32, p < 2.0 × 10−16) and higher, on average, when compared to adult cases. Additional class III risk variants in the MHC region associated with POMS were revealed after accounting for HLA–DRB1*15:01 and HLA–A*02. Conclusion: Pediatric and adult MS share many genetic variants suggesting similar biological processes are present. MHC variants beyond HLA–DRB1*15:01 and HLA–A*02 are also associated with POMS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1825-1834
Number of pages10
JournalMultiple Sclerosis Journal
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Multiple sclerosis
  • epidemiology
  • genetics
  • pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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