Epidemiological studies have suggested differences in the rate of multiple sclerosis (MS) in individuals of European ancestry compared to African ancestry, motivating genetic scans to identify variants that could contribute to such patterns. In a whole-genome scan in 899 African-American cases and 1155 African-American controls, we confirm that African-Americans who inherit segments of the genome of European ancestry at a chromosome 1 locus are at increased risk for MS [logarithm of odds (LOD) = 9.8], although the signal weakens when adding an additional 406 cases, reflecting heterogeneity in the two sets of cases [logarithm of odds (LOD) = 2.7]. The association in the 899 individuals can be fully explained by two variants previously associated with MS in European ancestry individuals. These variants tag a MS susceptibility haplotype associated with decreased CD58 gene expression (odds ratio of 1.37; frequency of 84% in Europeans and 22% in West Africans for the tagging variant) as well as another haplotype near the FCRL3 gene (odds ratio of 1.07; frequency of 49% in Europeans and 8% in West Africans). Controlling for all other genetic and environmental factors, the two variants predict a 1.44-fold higher rate of MS in European-Americans compared to African-Americans.
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