Autoimmune diseases in families of French patients with multiple sclerosis


Dr E. Roullet, Service de Neurologie, Hopital Tenon, 4 rue de la Chine, 75,020. Paris, France


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with autoimmune disorders (AIDs) in individual patients, and limited data suggest a possible familial association of MS and AIDs; however, no systematic study has been conducted on the occurrence of AIDs in the families of MS patients. Using a standardized interview focused on AIDs, we obtained the family histories of 357 consecutive patients from our MS clinic. Adequate information was obtained on 1971 first-degree relatives. Fifty-five patients (15.4%) had first-degree relatives with MS (n=22, 6.2%), another AID (n=30, 8.4%), or both (n=3, 0.8%). In 16 families (4.5%), at least 3 first-degree relatives had MS or another AID. MS, Grave's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and uveitis, were the most common AIDs in these families. Such multiplex families (families with MS plus AID) are appropriate for identifying susceptibility genes that may be common to MS and other AIDs.