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Genes Immun. 2005 Mar;6(2):153-61.

IFNG polymorphisms are associated with gender differences in susceptibility to multiple sclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Interferon-gamma (IFNgamma) treatment is deleterious in multiple sclerosis (MS). MS occurs twice as frequently in women as in men. IFNgamma expression varies by gender. We studied a population-based sample of US MS patients and ethnicity-matched controls and independent Northern Irish and Belgian hospital-based patients and controls for association with MS, stratified by gender, of an intron 1 microsatellite [I1(761)*CAn], a single nucleotide polymorphism 3' of IFNG [3'(325)*G --> A] and three flanking microsatellite markers spanning a 118 kb region around IFNG. Men carriers of the 3'(325)*A allele have increased susceptibility to MS compared to noncarriers in the USA (P=0.044; OR: 2.58, 95% CI: 0.97-8.08) and Northern Ireland (P=0.019; OR: 2.37, 95% CI: 1.10-5.13). There is a nonsignificant trend in the same direction in Belgian men (P=0.299; OR: 1.50, 95% CI: 0.71-3.26). Men carriers of I1(761)*CA13, which is in strong linkage disequilibrium with the 3'(325)*A, have increased susceptibility (P=0.050; OR: 2.22, 95% CI: 0.98-5.40), while men carriers of I1(761)*CA12 have decreased susceptibility (P=0.022; OR: 0.46, 95% CI: 0.23-0.90) to MS in the USA. Similar associations were reported in Sardinia between the I1(761)*CA12 allele and reduced risk of MS in men. Flanking markers were not associated with MS susceptibility. Polymorphisms of IFNG may contribute to differences in susceptibility to MS between men and women.

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