HLA-DRB1 and month of birth in multiple sclerosis.
Ramagopalan SV., Link J., Byrnes JK., Dyment DA., Giovannoni G., Hintzen RQ., Sundqvist E., Kockum I., Smestad C., Lie BA., Harbo HF., Padyukov L., Alfredsson L., Olsson T., Sadovnick AD., Hillert J., Ebers GC.
BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) displays a month-of-birth effect, with an excess of individuals being born in the spring and a deficit in the winter. This effect was shown to be more pronounced in familial cases of MS. In the present study, we investigated whether this month-of-birth association has any relation to the principal MS susceptibility gene, HLA-DRB1. METHODS: A total of 4,834 patients with MS, 4,056 controls, and 659 unaffected siblings from Canada, Sweden, and Norway were genotyped for the HLA-DRB1 gene. Month of birth was compared for patients, controls, and unaffected siblings with and without the MS risk allele HLA-DRB1*15. RESULTS: Significantly fewer patients with MS carrying the HLA-DRB1*15 risk allele were born in November compared with patients not carrying this allele (p = 0.02). Additionally, patients with MS carrying HLA-DRB1*15 had a higher number of April births compared with patients with MS not carrying HLA-DRB1*15 (p = 0.004). These differences were not present in controls or unaffected siblings. CONCLUSIONS: Month of birth, HLA-DRB1 genotype, and risk of multiple sclerosis are associated. The interaction of a seasonal risk factor with loci at or near HLA-DRB1 during gestation or shortly after birth is implicated.