Sex ratio of multiple sclerosis and clinical phenotype.
Ramagopalan SV., Byrnes JK., Orton SM., Dyment DA., Guimond C., Yee IM., Ebers GC., Sadovnick AD.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: In a longitudinal population-based dataset of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), we have previously observed a substantial increase in the female to male sex ratio in Canada over the last 50 years. Here, we aimed to determine whether this change in sex ratio is related to the clinical course of MS. METHODS: We calculated sex ratios by birth year in 11 868 patients with relapsing-remitting (RR) MS and 2825 patients with primary progressive (PP) MS identified as part of the Canadian Collaborative Project on the Genetic Susceptibility to MS. RESULTS: Year of birth was a significant predictor for sex ratio in RR MS (P < 0.0001, chi(2) = 21.2; Spearman's rank correlation r = 0.67), but not for PP MS (P = 0.44, chi(2) = 0.6; Spearman's rank correlation r = 0.11). CONCLUSIONS: An increase in the number of female RR MS patients over time accounts for the increasing sex ratio of MS. This has implications for pathogenesis, for assessment of clinical trial results and for disease prevention. The factors underlying the selective increase in MS in females need to be uncovered.