Aspects of gene-environment interactions in multiple sclerosis (MS) were analysed in serum samples from 46 MS families (25 sporadic MS cases and 42 familial MS cases): antibodies to the MS-associated human endogenous retrovirus HERV-H, and levels of three components in the innate pathogen-associated molecular pattern recognition: mannan-binding lectin (MBL), and MASP-2 and MASP-3. For representative MS families, we also determined herpesvirus serology for HSV-1, VZV, and EBV; and tissue typed for HLA-B, and HLA DR and DQ. In MS, a significant correlation between elevated immune reactivity to HERV-H Env and disease activity was demonstrated, as were indications of a protective effect of high MBL and MASP-3 levels. The HLA alleles B()07, DRB()02, and DQB1()06 were commonly present together in the MS families, both in MS patients, and in unaffected family members. Our results support that HERV-H and the antiviral immune response may play a role in MS development, and also underline the tenuous nature of specific genetic contributions to this complex disease.
Journal of Neuroimmunology, 2007, Vol 183, Issue 175-88